Thousands have taken to the streets of Hong Kong in another massive act of civil disobedience that quickly spiraled into chaos in a city engulfed by months-long unrest against the Chinese central government.
Demonstrators erected barricades in the city’s central shopping district defying a government ban on public gatherings in the area. People came out demanding more freedoms as well as “meaningful” autonomy from Beijing.
Yet, the tensions that have been rife in Hong Kong for months soon spilled over and the protests quickly descended into riots. Demonstrators vandalized shops, threw bricks and hurled petrol bombs.
At around 5PM, a large group of rioters used umbrellas as cover and repeatedly threw petrol bombs towards police officers at multiple locations on Hong Kong Island. pic.twitter.com/DKmPFm0Wai
— Hong Kong Police Force (@hkpoliceforce) November 2, 2019
“Some masked rioters vandalized shops and committed arson. Some even placed nails on the road,” police said in a statement.
“These acts seriously affected the traffic and brought grave inconvenience to members of the public,” a spokesman for the Hong Kong government told Xinhua news agency, adding that “these acts are outrageous and deserve the strongest condemnation.”
Xinhua’s office in Hong Kong was also vandalized by the rioters, who broke the windows and ransacked it. It was the first such incident since the start of the protests in which the news agency was targeted.
Police soon moved in to disperse the crowds, using tear gas and water cannons as well as rubber bullets, according to some reports. Some 100 people were detained.
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The protests marked the 22nd straight weekend of unrest in the former British colony, which was initially triggered by a now dropped bill easing extradition of local prisoners to mainland China. The authorities scrapped the bill, but the protests didn’t abide. The demonstrators repeatedly called on outside powers to support their struggle as British and American national flags were regularly used during protests. Beijing condemned the unrest and criticized nations like the US and the UK that publicly supported the protests.
Once a booming financial hub, Hong Kong has since been plunged into recession by the seemingly unending protests that repeatedly led to traffic disruptions and saw many shops shuttered, thus affecting tourist inflow and business confidence.
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