HONG KONG: A Hong Kong police officer fired a gunshot during protests on Sunday.
This is said to be the first live round used since demonstrations broke out in June.
Earlier on Monday, police deployed water cannon against protesters.
The protests began in the city’s Tsuen Wan district and then spread to the district of Tsim Sha Tsui.
Hong Kong police said 36 people had been arrested as a result of Sunday’s protests, the youngest aged just 12.
Demonstrations were sparked by an extradition bill but have since morphed into broader anti-government protests, and developments on Sunday marked a serious escalation in the unrest.
Police told local media that the gunshot was fired as a warning to protesters, and that several officers had been taken to hospital as a result of the clashes.
They clarified in a statement on Monday that six officers had drawn their pistols and one had fired the warning shot into the air.
Police Superintendent Leung Kwok-wing did not say where the shot was aimed but told news outlet SCMP that the shot was fired because the lives of police officers were “under threat”.
Before the scuffle, black-clad protesters had thrown projectiles at police, including bricks and petrol bombs.
Police had said water cannons would only be used at a “large-scale public disturbance”
Police also fired rubber bullets and tear gas, and used two water cannon vehicles to clear barricades and disperse crowds.
Images on social media show the vehicles being driven through the streets of Tsuen Wan, where a group of demonstrators had set up roadblocks and dug up bricks from the pavement.
The vehicles are equipped with surveillance cameras and multiple water cannon nozzles, and police had said they would only be used in the event of a “large-scale public disturbance”.