Asia

Student protesters dig in on university campus, chaos erupts around Hong Kong

HONG KONG: Hong Kong protesters fought intense battles with riot police on a university campus and paralysed the city's business district on Tuesday (Nov 12), extending one of the most violent stretches of unrest seen in more than five months of political chaos.

Universities emerged as a new battleground with sustained clashes at major campuses for the first time as police fired tear gas and protesters threw petrol bombs and bricks at police.

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The epicentre was the Chinese University of Hong Kong in New Territories where the usually placid hillside grounds were turned into a battlefield.

Police fired repeated volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of protesters who had built barricades in an hours-long stand-off between the two sides.

Protesters responded with bricks and petrol bombs, while a vehicle used in a barricade was set alight.

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After a brief hiatus in which faculty staff tried to mediate, new clashes broke in the evening with flames lighting up the night sky and fresh rounds of tear gas whizzing through the air.

Police used a water cannon truck in an attempt to dislodge protesters but they remained behind their makeshift shield walls. Tensions remained high late on Tuesday night.

There were smaller clashes on at least three other university campuses throughout the day.

Students in hard hats and gas masks had since morning been barricading City University. Activists, who had home-made shields, stockpiled bricks and petrol and nail bombs on bridges and other approaches.

They overran the campus and smashed up the adjacent Festival Walk shopping mall and set fires, including to a big Christmas tree.

READ: Protesters tried to steal officer's gun: Hong Kong police on latest shooting

Protesters gather during clashes with police at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), in Hong Kong on Nov 12, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Dale De La Rey)

A man reacts as he tries to extinguish a burning Christmas tree at Festival Walk mall in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, China Nov 12, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Protesters also threw petrol bombs from an overpass on to the highway linking the Northern New Territories with Kowloon, bringing traffic to a standstill in a haze of tear gas smoke.

Several students were wounded in the violence.

READ: Hong Kong protesters, students continue to clash with police as night falls

In photos: Hong Kong university campuses burn as student protesters battle police

Protesters and journalists react after police fired tear gas at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Nov 12, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Dale dela Rey)

A student prepares to hurl a Molotov cocktail toward police during clashes at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, Nov 12, 2019. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)

"INSANE" ACTS

The clashes took place a day after police shot a protester at close range and a man was doused with petrol and set on fire in some of the worst violence in the Chinese-ruled city in decades.

More than 1,000 protesters, many wearing office clothes and face masks, rallied in Central for a second day during lunch hour, blocking roads below some of the city's tallest skyscrapers and most expensive real estate.

READ: China says firmly supports Hong Kong police after US criticises shooting of protester

After they had dispersed, police fired tear gas at the remaining protesters on old, narrow Pedder Street. Police made more than a dozen arrests, many pinned up on the pavement against the wall of luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co.

Tear gas was also used in the town of Tai Po, where a truck was set on fire, and in the densely populated Kowloon district of Mong Kok, whose shopping artery Nathan Road has been the scene of many clashes.

Police said masked "rioters" had committed "insane" acts, throwing trash, bicycles and other debris on to metro tracks and overhead power lines, paralysing transport in the former British colony. TV footage showed activists dropping heavy objects from overpasses on to traffic below, just missing a motorcyclist.

A couple rejoice after policemen retreat from Central in Hong Kong, Nov. 12, 2019. (Photo: AP/Ng Han Guan)

A woman offers prayer as policemen clear a road in Central in Hong Kong, Nov. 12, 2019. (Photo: AP/Ng Han Guan)

"Our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown," Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung told a briefing, referring to the last two days of violence

The demonstrators have been protesting since June against what they believe to be meddling by Beijing in the freedoms guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" formula put in place when the territory returned to China from British rule in 1997. Tough police tactics in response to the unrest have also fuelled anger.

READ: China says firmly supports Hong Kong police after US criticises shooting of protester

READ: Hong Kong cop suspended after driving motorbike into group of protesters

China denies interfering and has blamed Western countries including Britain and the United States for stirring up trouble.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said protestRead More – Source

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