Police fire tear gas in busy shopping district in new Hong Kong clashes
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Hong Kong police have fired tear gas at protesters to disperse crowds as both sides clashed for a second consecutive night in the bustling shopping district of Mong Kok.
Riot police were out on the streets and at flash points en masse on Saturday to stave off a fresh wave of pro-democracy demonstrations.
Earlier, measures were taken to beef up security at Hong Kong International Airport, shopping centres, as well as train and bus stations in preparation for a second weekend of disruption.
Authorities limited transport services to the airport – a frequent target for protesters – and controlled access to terminals.
There were also road checks and inspections carried out of bus and rail passengers to weed out protesters.
One witness saw two bus passengers being handcuffed and taken away after police found face masks in their bags.
Only people with plane tickets were allowed to enter the terminals, and those milling around an adjoining bus terminal were chased off.
It followed a night of heated clashes between police and anti-government protesters after 14 weeks of demonstrations which have at times turned violent.
Police fired rubber bullets and deployed tear gas and pepper spray at protesters who took cover behind umbrellas and barricades fashioned from street fencing.
This is despite attempts by the Hong Kong government to ease tensions across the city earlier in the week.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Wednesday that the controversial China extradition bill would be withdrawn – which has been the main catalyst of the protests.
She had previously said the bill was “dead” – but stopped short of fully removing the draft legislation.
Protests in the former British colony began in June regarding the bill, which would have meant criminals could be extradited to the Chinese mainland.
But broader concerns about claims of police brutality and the erosion of freedoms under the “one country, two systems” formula – enacted after Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 – have now come to the fore.
The protesters want democratic reforms and the city’s Beijing-backed leader to resign.