HONG KONG: Tear gas was fired in at least two places on Thursday morning (Nov 14), as protesters continued to paralyse parts of Hong Kong for a fourth day.
Protesters have torched vehicles and buildings, hurled petrol bombs at police stations and trains and vandalised prime shopping malls over the past week in some of the worst violence seen in more than five months of unrest.
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After targeting the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which has been dubbed as “weapons factory”, police closed in on Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) on Thursday.
Tear gas was fired at around 8am, according to HKPU Student Union’s editorial committee.
Thousands of students barricaded themselves inside campuses with makeshift fortifications at several other universities, blocking entrances and occupying nearby roads, preparing stockpiles of food, bricks, petrol bombs and other makeshift weapons as they hunkered down for possible clashes with police.
READ: Protesters blockade universities, stockpile makeshift weapons as chaos grips Hong Kong
Activities came to a halt in the international financial hub as highways and other transport links were blocked, and schools ordered to close.
Black-clad protesters and university students maintained their blockades of major roads, including the entrance to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel that links Hong Kong island to the Kowloon area, and a major highway artery between Kowloon and the rural New Territories.
Police fired tear gas near the tunnel on Thursday morning to try to clear the protesters.
A number of major shopping malls also announced they would close on Thursday due to safety concerns as protesters planned further demonstrations throughout the day.
Commuters queued at metro stations across the city after some rail services were suspended. Some citizens, dressed in office wear, shouted at riot police who were deployed on station platforms.
One woman, a 24-year-old worker caught in the traffic gridlock who gave her name as Kristy, said: “The government and the police have escalated the violence.”
“If the government wants the violence to stop they need to listen to our demands,” she added.
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MAN DIES AFTER FALL FROM HEIGHT
The city’s education bureau announced that all schools would be shut on Thursday due to safety concerns, a decision that typically only happens during severe typhoons or natural disasters.
Several universities also announced there would be no classes on campuses for the rest of the year from Thursday, meaning they would rely on online learning and other assessment methods for the remaining weeks of term.
Demonstrators are angry about what they see as police brutality and meddling by Beijing in the freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place when the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China denies interfering and has blamed Western countries, including Britain and the United States, for stirring up trouble.
Police said on Wednesday violence in the Chinese territory had reached a “very dangerous and even deadly level”.
Authorities said on Thursday 64 people were injured during Wednesday’s clashes, which left two men in critical condition. There were no further details about the injuries they sustained.
Police said in a statement a man had died after falling from an unspecified height on Wednesday but gave no further details.
Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, met senior officials late on Wednesday, media reported, amid speculation of fresh emergency measures to deal with the crisis.
Lam said this week protesters paralysing the city were “selfish” and were now the people’s enemy.
MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests
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