HONG KONG: Riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to disperse thousands of Hong Kong protesters who defied orders by occupying major roads and vandalising Beijing’s liaison office which led to mayhem.
Meanwhile, suspected gangsters attacked rally-goers at a station in an outlying district of the city.
The demonstration began peacefully as tens of thousands of anti-government protesters poured onto the streets to renew calls for an independent inquiry into police brutality, alongside other pro-democracy demands.
Clad in their usual black, the demonstrators began gathering at 3pm (07:00 GMT) in Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island for a march towards Wan Chai, a busy commercial area.
But thousands protesters went on further west and gathered outside Beijing’s liaison office. The protesters threw eggs and defaced the national Chinese emblem outside the building.
The organiser of the march, the Civil Human Rights Front, said 430,000 people participated, while police put the figure at 138,000.
In the more rural northwest of the territory, meanwhile, men dressed in white t-shirts and wielding sticks stormed into the Yuen Long station, attacking passengers.
The opposition Democratic Party said on Monday it would investigate the attacks, which it blamed on suspected members of triad organised crime groups.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting criticised the police for their failure to intervene.
“Is Hong Kong now allowing triads to do what they want, beating up people on the street with weapons?” he said.
Hong Kong police said they had moved to clear the occupied Sheung Wan area because the Central Police Station “was under attack” and began using tear gas after protesters continued to throw “bricks and petrol bombs” at officers despite warnings.
At around 8 PM, following public announcements, the Police embarked on a clearance operation, during which the building of the Central Police Station was under attack.
While the Police’s cordon line was sweeping eastward through Sheung Wan, some protestors threw such objects as bricks and petrol bombs at the Police. Despite repeated warnings by the Police, the violence did not abate. Therefore, the Police used tear gas at around 10 PM.