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Clashes involving Hong Kong's protest movement grow violent

 Violence and tear gas
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Violence and tear gas

Clashes involving Hong Kong's protest movement escalated violently late Sunday as police launched tear gas at protesters who didn't disband after a massive march and subway riders were attacked by masked assailants who appeared to target the pro-democracy demonstrators.

The firing of tear gas was the latest confrontation between police and protesters who have taken to the streets for almost two months to fight a proposed extradition bill and call for electoral reforms in the Chinese territory.

AP
"Challenge to authority"
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"Challenge to authority"

The march had been peaceful when it reached its police-designated end point in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district in the late afternoon, but thousands continued onward, at various points occupying key government and business districts. They then headed for the Liaison Office, which represents China's Communist Party-led central government within the city.

Protesters threw eggs at the building and spray-painted its surrounding surveillance cameras. China's national emblem, which adorns the front of the Liaison Office, was splattered with black ink. The Liaison Office said in comments published on Chinese state media that the acts ``openly challenged the authority of the central government and touched the bottom line of the `one country, two systems' principle.''

AP
Bricks and petrol bombs hurled
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Bricks and petrol bombs hurled

Later, police threw tear gas canisters at protesters to try to disperse them. Protesters scattered, some heading back in the direction of a key business and retail district. Police remained in place, protecting themselves with shields. Police said on their official social media accounts that protesters threw bricks and petrol bombs at them and attacked the Central police station.

Hong Kong media released video showing masked assailants attacking commuters in a subway station. Among those attacked were protesters clad in their trademark black clothing and yellow hard hats.

AP
Reason behind confrontation
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Reason behind confrontation

The Hong Kong government said in a statement shortly after midnight that commuters were attacked at a subway station in the city's Yuen Long neighborhood, leading to ``confrontations and injuries.''

The statement also said some ``radical protesters initiated a series of violent acts ... despite repeated warnings'' by police. They said the acts included hurling petrol bombs, setting fires and throwing bricks.

``This is absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the rule of law,'' the statement said, referring to the acts of the subway attackers as well as the protesters.

AP
What led to this?
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What led to this?

Organizers said 430,000 people participated in Sunday's march, while police said there were 138,000 during the procession's ``peak period.''

Large protests began early last month in opposition to a contentious extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to stand trial in mainland China, where critics say their rights would be compromised.

Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, has declared the extradition bill dead, but protesters are dissatisfied with her refusal to formally withdraw the legislation. Some are also calling for her to resign amid growing concerns about the steady erosion of civil rights in the city.

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Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service