Hong Kong police fire tear gas after clashes with protesters
September 21 2019 11:42 PM
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Riot police hold a sign during an anti-government march in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong, yesterday.

AFP/Hong Kong

Riot police and protesters in Hong Kong fought brief skirmishes near the Chinese border yesterday, the latest clashes during huge pro-democracy protests that have battered the financial hub for more than three months.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at small groups of hardcore activists who had built barricades in the outlying town of Tuen Mun, some of them lobbing bricks and at least one Molotov cocktail.
Multiple people were seen being arrested in the clashes, which were less sustained than the intense battles of previous weekends.
The city has been convulsed by 16 straight weekends of sometimes violent rallies calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.
The movement is the biggest challenge to China’s rule since Hong Kong was handed back by Britain in 1997 and shows no sign of ending, with city leaders and Beijing taking a hard line.
In a now familiar pattern, the day began with a peaceful rally.
At one point, a handful of protesters pulled down China’s flag flying outside a local government office and burned it.
Tensions spiked after police snatch squads rushed into a park where crowds had gathered and made a series of arrests.
Hundreds of hardcore activists then built barricades and dismantled nearby fences to arm themselves with makeshift clubs. Objects were also thrown onto nearby train tracks. 
But protesters showed little appetite in holding ground, quickly retreating as soon as police advanced.
By yesterday evening, pockets of demonstrators and police were playing a familiar game of cat and mouse. 
There were also skirmishes in Yuen Long, a nearby town where protesters were attacked by local Beijing supporters 
in July.
People had gathered to mark the two month anniversary of that assault - further fuelling animosity towards police, who were accused of being too slow to respond.
Officers were seen making multiple arrests in Yuen Long, sparking angry chants from 
locals and protesters. 
Hong Kong has been plunged into crisis this summer. 
The protests were ignited by a now scrapped plan to allow extraditions to the authoritarian Chinese mainland.
But when local leaders and Beijing refused to budge it snowballed into a wider campaign for democracy, fuelled by animosity towards the police.
Protesters have hurled rocks, bottles and petrol bombs as well as used slingshots in their battles with officers, who have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons with growing frequency.
At a briefing with foreign journalists on Friday, a senior commanding officer said he was alarmed by the latest tactics from protesters. 
“Our officers are worried that... violence has got to such a level that they might have to kill someone or be killed themselves,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We have been so restrained but in the face of such violence, this pressure has become 
extremely dangerous.”



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