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Iran Press TV

Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters trying to flee university campus

Iran Press TV

Monday, 18 November 2019 10:57 AM

Hong Kong police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to force back hundreds of masked protesters who remain trapped in the Chinese city's Polytechnic University after taking over the site and storing their arms there.

Police surrounded the university campus on Monday that was held by some 200 masked protesters armed with "lethal weapons" such as molotov cocktail.

The site had been used by the anti-government on the weekend to stockpile weapons, including bows and arrows, catapults and petrol bombs, prompting police to lay a siege to the university.

Clashes broke out between the two sides as some of protesters attempted to flee the campus, but were forced back by police.​

The protesters holed up in the site set fire to the entrance of the university, while a police officer was shot and wounded by a bow and arrow during the clashes.

"After repeated warnings were ignored, police officers dispersed the rioters with tear gas, the minimum force necessary," police said in a statement on Mondau. "The rioters are hereby warned to stop their unlawful acts."

Police called on them "to drop their weapons and dangerous items, remove their gas masks and leave via the top level of Cheong Wan Road South Bridge in an orderly manner."

Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen of Police Public Relations Branc said police are looking for a peaceful way to end the standoff, sai

"As long as these masked rioters give up their weapons, drop their weapons, follow police instructions and shoulder their legal responsibilities, the police have no reason to use force."

The Chinese city has been rocked by a spate of turbulent protests since June, when people outraged by a proposed extradition bill descended on the districts across the city. The bill was later withdrawn, but the protests continued and took on an increasingly violent form.

Protesters say by suggesting that proposal, Beijing infringed on the freedoms guaranteed when Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Meanwhile, troops from mainland China were deployed to a base close to the Polytechnic University for monitoring the situation.

Dozens of Chinese troops were also seen across the city helping clean up the debris and barricades strewn out by protesters during clashes between police and protesters over the weekend.

The brief deployment has sparked questions about Beijing's military interference in the semi-autonomous city.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, however defended the deployment and said the cleanup efforts were welcomed by Hong Kong's citizens.

"There were some Hong Kong citizens clearing roadblocks near the PLA Hong Kong garrison," Wu said.

He said the city's garrison "has the determination, confidence and capabilities to safeguard sovereignty, security and development interests of Hong Kong."

Hong Kong was returned to China after about a century of British colonial rule in 1979. Its legislative, executive, and judicial bodies are already separate from and independent of China. Beijing only maintains authority in defense, foreign affairs, and constitutional disputes.

China's Foreign Ministry also issued a warning on Monday, saying no one should underestimate the mainland's resolve to protect its sovereignty.

"If you are viewing the facts with an impartial view you can see that what is happening in Hong Kong is no longer a simple demonstration, it is a handful of violent criminals conducting violence against civilians," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a briefing.

Asian airlines cut flights to Hong Kong as violence escalates

Concerned over the chaos in Hong Kong, several Asian airlines have canceled their flights to the city over the coming weeks, according to industry scheduling publication Routes Online.

According to the latest schedules, the flights were canceled from Indonesia, India, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines

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