Hong Kong police fire tear gas, rubber bullets during clashes with protesters in Tsim Sha Tsui

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HONG KONG: Protestors continue to gather in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday night (Oct 27), setting fire to shops and clashing with Hong Kong police officers in running skirmishes across the city. 

Hundreds of people attended an unauthorised rally in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday afternoon, with police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon in a bid to clear the crowds.

But protesters continued to clash with police into the evening, with some hurling petrol bombs at Sham Shui Po Police Station.

“Rioters built barricades with objects such as public light bus stands and wooden boards, blocking roads extensively. Some attacked police officers with hard objects and umbrellas. Some hurled smoke grenades at MTR exits,” police said. 

Police officers have repeatedly warned the rioters that they are participating in an unauthorised assembly, which constitutes a criminal offence. Police once again warn all rioters to stop all illegal acts and appeal to bystanders to leave immediately.”

READ: Hong Kong court grants interim injunction prohibiting the public from disclosing police details

Police said one man was beaten up by “masked rioters”.

“The police warn all rioters to stop all illegal acts immediately,” they said in a statement.

Cat-and-mouse chases continued into the night, with protesters running away from water cannon and tear gas, only to re-appear seconds or minutes later.

Riot police stood by outside the Chungking Mansions high-rise warren of South Asian restaurants and backpacker hostels, shields and batons at the ready. 

Police later moved away, leaving protesters, pedestrians and tourists alike to take over the street under the neon lights. Then one water cannon moved in, firing high into the air and down side-streets.

Earlier on Sunday, police officers clashed with protesters in Tsim Sha Tsui, detaining protesters in the tourist district.

Protesters brought traffic to a halt on Nathan Road by erecting barricades across the main road. Many of them wore masks, defying a recent emergency law banning face coverings.

Officers stopped and searched numerous people, sparking confrontations as the crowds got bigger, many of them shouting “black cops” and “triads” at the police.

Tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets were fired in at least three locations as clashes broke out and crowds scattered. Officers used a water cannon to clear the demonstrators on Nathan Road.

Police officers release pepper spray during an anti-government protest in Hong Kong

Police officers release pepper spray and tear gas during a protest in Hong Kong’s tourism district of Tsim Sha Tsui on Oct 27, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

Police said in a statement on Sunday afternoon that “violent protesters” attacked officers with “hard objects and umbrellas”.

“Having given repeated warnings to the violent protestors in vain, police officers have deployed tear gas and will use minimum necessary force to effect dispersal.
      
“Police appeal to all violent protestors to stop all illegal acts and appeal to bystanders to leave immediately. Residents of the area are advised to stay tuned to the latest situation and if necessary, keep their windows shut and stay indoors.”

Clouds of acrid smoke wafted across streets usually packed with tourists, including outside the

Clouds of acrid smoke wafted across streets usually packed with tourists, including outside the landmark colonial-era Peninsula Hotel, as protesters and police clashed AFP/Anthony WALLACE

On Saturday, more than 1,000 Hong Kong medical workers and other protesters gathered for an authorised rally, with many angry about the perceived police brutality during more than four months of sometimes violent unrest. 

Hong Kong Protest tear gas Oct 27

Demonstrators are seen among the tear gas during a protest in Hong Kong’s tourism district of Tsim Tsui on Oct 27. (Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas) 

Activists have attacked police with petrol bombs and rocks and slashed one officer in the neck with a knife. Police have responded with tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and occasional live rounds, wounding several protesters and a few journalists.

READ: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam visits mosque struck by blue water cannon dye

READ: Hong Kong set for more subdued weekend of protests

Anti-government demonstrators protest in Hong Kong

A police officer gestures at a demonstrator during a protest in Hong Kong’s tourism district of Tsim Sha Tsui, China Oct 27, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

Police deny accusations of brutality, saying they have shown restraint in life-threatening situations. There has been a week-long lull in clashes.

A police water cannon fired bursts of blue-dyed water at a small group of people outside a mosque during protests in Tsim Sha Tsui last Sunday, drawing criticism from some in the Muslim community.

Billy, 26, a salesman, who did not want to give his full name, said he turned out on Sunday because he was angry at the spraying of the mosque.

“Hong Kong people, regardless of our religion … we come here to say no to our totalitarian government,” he told Reuters, adding he wanted to protest peacefully. “I have a little bit of fear … because our police sometimes they are uncontrollable and they threaten the safety of our people.”

Protesters are angry about what they see as creeping Chinese interference in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula intended to guarantee freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland.

China denies meddling. It has accused foreign governments, including the United States and Britain, of inciting the unrest.

READ: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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