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Hong Kong protesters defy ban, march through city

HONG KONG:  Hong Kong protesters defied the police ban on protest and marched through the city.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds of protesters.

Demonstrators lit fires and attacked the Legislative Council building as thousands joined the march.

An event to mark five years since Beijing ruled out fully democratic elections was banned by officials and called off by organisers.

On Friday, several key pro-democracy activists and lawmakers were arrested.

The protest movement grew out of rallies against a controversial extradition bill – now suspended – which would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

It has since become a broader pro-democracy movement in which clashes have grown more violent.

Protesters took to the streets in the Wan Chai district, many joining a Christian march, while others demonstrated in the Causeway Bay shopping district in the pouring rain. Many carried umbrellas and wore face masks.

Protesters chanted “stand with Hong Kong” and “fight for freedom”, and police erected barriers around key government buildings and set up some road blocks.

The recent demonstrations have been characterised as leaderless.

Outside the local headquarters of the China People’s Liberation Army, police fired rounds of tear gas to try to disperse anti-government protesters.

During a 24-hour police crackdown, at least three activists – including prominent 23-year-old campaigner Joshua Wong – and three lawmakers were detained.

Mr Wong, who first rose to prominence as the poster boy of a protest movement that swept Hong Kong in 2014, was released on bail after being charged over the protests which have rocked the territory since June.