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October 21, 2019

Hong Kong descends into chaos again as protesters defy rally ban

World

P
Pa
October 21, 2019

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s streets have descended into chaos again as protesters set up roadblocks and torched businesses on a main tourist street and police responded with tear gas and a water cannon after an unauthorised pro-democracy rally.

Protesters threw firebombs and took their anger out on shops with mainland Chinese ties as they skirmished late into the evening with riot police, who unleashed numerous tear gas rounds, angering residents and passers-by.

Police had beefed up security measures ahead of the rally, for which they refused to give permission, the latest chapter in the unrest that has disrupted life in the financial hub since early June.

Some 24 people were hurt and treated in hospital, including six with serious injuries, the Hospital Authority said. Police did not give an arrest figure.

As the march set off, protest leaders carried a black banner that read “Five main demands, not one less”, as they pressed their calls for police accountability and political rights in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Supporters sang the protest movement’s anthem, waved colonial and US flags, and held up placards depicting the Chinese flag as a Nazi swastika.

Many protesters wore masks in defiance of a recently introduced ban on face coverings at public gatherings, and handed more out to the crowd.

Some frontline protesters barricaded streets at multiple locations in Kowloon, where the city’s subway operator restricted passenger access.

They tore up paving slabs and scattered them on the road, commandeered plastic safety barriers and unscrewed metal railings to form makeshift roadblocks.

A water cannon truck and armoured car led a column of dozens of police vans up and down Nathan Road, a major artery lined with shops, to spray a stinging blue-dyed liquid as police moved to clear the road of protesters and barricades.

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