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Hong Kong protesters defy mask ban as city grinds to halt

Hong Kong protesters defy mask ban as city grinds to halt

Hong Kong: Pro-democracy protesters marched through Hong Kong in defiance of a ban on face masks as much of the city ground to a halt on Saturday with the subway suspended and swathes of shops and malls shuttered following another night of violence.

Hundreds of protesters, almost all masked, staged an unsanctioned march through the popular shopping district of Causeway Bay, a day after the city's leader outlawed face coverings at protests invoking colonial-era emergency powers not used for half a century.

The latest act of resistance came after a night of widespread night of chaos as hardcore protesters trashed dozens of subway stations vandalised shops with mainland China ties, built fires and blocked roads.

As the crowds were marching on Saturday, city leader Carrie Lam released a stony-faced video statement in which she condemned protesters for "a very dark night".

"We cannot allow rioters any more to destroy our treasured Hong Kong," Lam said as she called on citizens to distance themselves form the more hardcore protesters.

But the march in Causeway Bay, which came despite the city-wide subway closure, showed protesters were still willing to defy the mask ban as they chanted "No rioters, only tyranny" and other popular slogans. Hong Kong has been battered by four months of increasingly violent pro-democracy protests.

The rallies were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, which fuelled fears of an erosion of liberties promised under the "one country, two systems" model China uses for the finance hub.

After Beijing and local leaders took a hard line, the demonstrations snowballed into a wider movement calling for more democratic freedoms and police accountability.

Lam has refused any major concessions but struggled to come up with any political solution that might end the chaos, leaving police and demonstrators to fight increasingly violent battles as the city tips into recession.

Hong Kong witnessed its worst clashes to date on Tuesday as China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule, with a teenager shot and

wounded by police as he attacked an officer.

On Friday, Lam used a colonial-era law to ban face masks at protests, but it did little to clam tensions. Instead it triggered another wave of mass protests and vows of defiance.

In the northern district of Yuen Long, a plainclothes police officer opened fire when he was surrounded in his car and attacked by protesters, a petrol bomb exploding at his feet. Police on Saturday confirmed a 14-year-old boy was shot in the leg, taken to hospital & then arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer and rioting.

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