Massive fires raged at the campus of Hong Kong Polytech University (PolyU), where anti-government protesters have holed up, and pelting petrol bombs at riot police, who have taken position around the university campus. The protesters feared police raid in the campus.
The campus turned into a battleground between the rioters hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks at police, and police firing tear gas and water cannon, as videos from the scene early Monday morning show an inferno rising near the staircase to the building.
Hundreds of protesters, hiding inside the building set the entrance on fire, either on purpose or due to ‘mismanagement’ of petrol bombs, when a police raid seemed imminent.
However, after sealing the campus off to prevent ‘reinforcements’ from reaching the area, and detaining a number of protesters, authorities apparently chose not to storm the building.
Hong Kong authorities warned that unless protesters stop using lethal weapons like Molotov cocktails, police might be forced to resort to live fire.
The flare-up comes after two days of standoff during which protesters threw petrol bombs, stones and javelins – and even shot arrows at police.
Over the weekend, protesters attacked a group of volunteers who tried to help authorities clear the roadblocks and debris outside the PolyU. A man and a woman were hospitalized with head injuries as a result.
The PolyU campus became one of the recent hotspots of riots in Hong Kong that started with demonstrations against an extradition law in March. Although the legislation was scrapped, protests went on with violent groups among protesters vandalizing property and attacking citizens who support the government.
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Protesters hurl petrol bombs at volunteers trying to clear roadblocks and shoot arrows at police
Demonstrators in Hong Kong attacked common citizens who attempted to free the roads from barricades amid a new round of clashes with police.
A fierce street battle erupted outside the PolyU on Sunday, as protesters threw bricks at police, which responded with tear gas and water cannons.
The police officers were trying to remove the barricades erected by the demonstrators earlier this week, and urged them to stop placing metal spikes on the roads in hopes of piercing the police vehicles’ tires.
A sergeant with police media liaison office was shot in the leg with an arrow by the protesters.
The protesters have been previously filmed using bows and arrows against the law enforcement. They also used javelins, homemade catapults and slingshots.
Similar scuffles occurred near the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), where black-clad, masked rioters threw bricks and petrol bombs at the volunteers, who were removing the makeshift barricades.
The residents, many of whom are alumnae of these universities, have answered online calls from pro-government politicians to help clean the streets.
Some of them told the South China Morning Post that protesters have gone “too far” when they switched from rioting downtown to seizing campuses and blocking major roads, including the Cross-Harbor Tunnel, which connects the Hong Kong Island with the rest of the city.
Around 50 Chinese army soldiers joined the volunteers to dismantle the barricades near the Hong Kong Baptist University, marking the first time when China’s troops have left their barracks since the start of the protests this summer. The soldiers were unarmed and wore no protective gear.
Opposition lawmakers quickly claimed that China violated Hong Kong laws, which bar China from deploying its military in the city unless local authorities request help. Hong Kong’s Security Secretary John Lee, however, said that the move was legal, since the soldiers were not on a military mission, but performing voluntary community service instead.
Police deny raiding PolyU
The Hong Kong Police Force denies accusations that it “raided” the premises of the PolyU in an overnight standoff between masked rioters.
Clarifying in a media release on Monday morning, the police slammed the rumor as “totally false.”
Rioters gathered Sunday at PolyU and set fire to the flyover connecting the campus and the Hung Hom MRT station.
Till 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning, fires and explosions were still seen and heard inside PolyU as police tried to conduct dispersal and arrest operations.