Hong Kong police fired water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas at petrol bomb-throwing protesters on Sunday in some of the most widespread and violent clashes in more than three months of anti-government unrest.
Running battles in the Causeway Bay shopping district, Wan Chai bar area and the Admiralty district of central government offices followed a night of showdowns with police in the Chinese-ruled city, where street fires burned as the sun set.
More protests are planned in the run-up to China’s Oct. 1 National Day, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.
Police fired tear gas from the roof of the Legislative Council building, which activists ransacked in early July.
Protesters, many of them dressed in black and wearing face masks, took cover from the tear gas behind umbrellas, some throwing the canisters back at police.
They built barricades with trolleys and trash cans and other debris. One threw a petrol bomb at police in the Wan Chai metro station. Others tried and failed to smash cameras over Bank of China ATMs but spray-painted the screens instead.
At least one petrol bomb landed in the grounds of central government offices where several windows were smashed. There were also street fires on the main drag of Hennessy Road.
Protesters also smashed the windows of a taxi and sprayed graffiti on the windows of businesses including Starbucks outlets. Small scuffles continued into the evening.
Police, who raise placards warning of retaliation before firing tear gas or firing water cannon in a tradition dating back to British rule, made several arrests, often after grappling people
There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.
The water cannon fired blue dye, which elsewhere in the world is used to make identification of offenders easier.
The government said that the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, will be out of town for China’s National Day despite her having sent invitations for celebrations at home.
Some shops closed ahead of expected demonstrations, while the MTR metro service shut stations in a move that has made it a target of violence in the past. Protesters hurled petrol bombs into a station and set fires, MTR said in a statement.