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Tear gas, rubber bullets disperse protesters

2019-06-12 HKT 16:08
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  • Tear gas, rubber bullets disperse protesters
  • An injured protester lies on the ground as police push ahead. Photo: RTHK
    An injured protester lies on the ground as police push ahead. Photo: RTHK
  • A cloud of tear gas around protesters near the Legislative Council. Photo: AP
    A cloud of tear gas around protesters near the Legislative Council. Photo: AP
Maggie Ho reports
Armed police fired tear gas repeatedly as they moved methodically ahead to clear areas occupied by protesters as hours of tense, but peaceful stand-offs around the Legco complex descended into chaos by Wednesday evening.

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters, some of whom had arrived at the scene on Tuesday night to protest against the government's controversial fugitive law changes, had been driven out of the area they had earlier occupied.

As a cloud of tear gas covered the area, police cleared the Legco protest area and Civic Square, Harcourt Road and Tim Mei Avenue, pushing protesters further into Central. But groups of protesters kept resisting, spreading the confrontations across a wider area.

The protesters had stayed put for hours even as a strong contingent of armed police officers took guard around the Legco complex. Things did get edgy a couple of times in the morning and police resorted to the use of pepper spray to contain the restless protesters.

By noon a tense peace descended over the area,

However, as the hours passed and an expected reaction from the city's top official, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, failed to surface, things began to change. A brief statement by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung calling for demonstrators to end their protest was the only official response.

Internet chatter involving protester groups reflected the frustration that was setting in, and soon an ultimatum to the government started appearing in chat groups, with some announcing a series of actions if the bill was not dropped by 3pm.

As tensions rose, some demonstrators attempted to break through the line of defence wall built by a phalanx of policemen around Legco in order to enter the complex.

Protesters wearing masks and goggles and shielding themselves with umbrellas tried to break through the police cordon at several spots outside Legco, pushing metal fences as they advanced.

After conceding some ground, officers in protective gear pushed back. They at first used batons and pepper spray, but later started using tear gas and non-lethal guns to disperse the onrushing protesters.

Protesters who were scattered from the Legco area were pursued by police, who used a series of tear gas shots to clear the nearby roads of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road.

With tear gas rising over the area – giving way to scenes similar to the 2014 Occupy protests – police slowly but surely regained control of the areas.

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Last updated: 2019-06-12 HKT 19:45