Hong Kong police fired tear gas in the heart of the Central financial district and at two university campuses to break up pro-democracy protests as violence was bringing the Chinese-ruled city to what they said was the “brink of total breakdown”, Reuters informed.
The violence came a day after police shot a protester at close range and a man was doused with petrol and set on fire in some of the worst violence in Hong Kong in decades, Reuters adds.
More than 1,000 protesters, many wearing office clothes and face masks, rallied in Central for a second day during lunch hour, blocking roads below some of the city’s tallest skyscrapers and most expensive real estate.
After the crowd had dispersed, police fired tear gas at the remaining protesters on old, narrow Pedder Street. Police made more than a dozen arrests, many pinned up on the pavement against the wall of luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. Police vans surged into the area, and officers took up positions in a standoff with protesters just an hour or so before office workers were due to start leaving for home.
“Our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown,” a police spokesman told a briefing, referring to the last two days of violence. He added the man set on fire on Monday was still in critical condition and appealed for information on who was responsible.
Police on Monday fired volley after volley of tear gas in Central, where some protesters blocked streets lined with banks and jewelry shops. Most had pulled down their shutters on Tuesday, Reuters adds.
Tension eased as the lunch hour ended, but some protesters used a double-decker airport bus to block a key road running alongside the newly reclaimed area of the harbor close to downtown Central.