Hong Kong protesters confront police to try to free campus allies
HONG KONG: Hong Kong police used tear gas and water cannon on Monday against protesters who tried to break through cordons and reach a university at the centre of a week-long standoff between demonstrators and law enforcement.
The black-clad protesters hurled petrol bombs as they tried to get to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, occupied by activists during a week that has seen the most intense violence in five months of anti-government demonstrations.
"We have been trying to rescue them all day," said a young man in a blue T-shirt, cap and spectacles, running down Nathan Road, the Kowloon district's main commercial street. "They are trapped in there."
Later, about a dozen protesters pinned inside the campus escaped on the backs of waiting motorbikes after lowering themselves with rope onto the road.
The size of demonstrations has dwindled in recent weeks, but clashes between protesters and police have escalated sharply since early last week, when police shot a protester, a man was set on fire and the city's financial district was filled with tear gas in the middle of the workday.
On Monday night, protesters under cover of umbrellas huddled along the median strip in Nathan Road, filling bottles with petrol to make crude bombs, a weapon they have used increasingly.
Some residents were trapped at police cordons, and all the shops along a stretch of commercial strip that is usually one of Hong Kong's busiest were shut.