Hong Kong was struck by another night of violence on Sunday as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in running battles with protesters.
Police urged residents to stay indoors with their windows shut as the semi-autonomous Chinese territory was consumed by chaos as demonstrators blocked streets with road signs and umbrellas.
Officers were attempting to push the crowds away from the Chinese government’s liaison office and a police station in the western part of Hong Kong when they fired tear gas.
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Protesters occupied two areas at opposite ends of central Hong Kong on Sunday following a midafternoon rally against police use of tear gas at a previous demonstration.
The pro-democracy protests began early last month in opposition to an extradition bill with mainland China that has since been suspended and described as “dead” by Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader. But the movement has expanded to become a more broad push for full democracy.
Hong Kong has seen eight consecutive weekends of anti-government and pro-democracy protests this summer.
Sunday’s protests began with demonstrators defying authorities by marching from a park in the city’s financial district, despite not winning police approval for a public procession.
Some protesters headed west to mainland China’s liaison office, where hundreds of riot police blocked activists from advancing towards the building.
The office was recently targetted by demonstrators who egged the building and splattered black ink on the national emblem, provoking an angry response from the Chinese government.
Meanwhile, another group of protesters marched to the Causeway Bay shopping area and set up barricades outside a department store.
The afternoon rally was called to protest the police use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other force to break up a protest last weekend.
“We need to have a protest to show that we are strongly against this kind of brutality and we need them to respond to our demands,” rally organiser Ventus Lau said.
On Saturday, police officers hurled tear gas at protesters on the streets of Yuen Long after an order not to protest was defied.
Police wearing helmets charged into a train station in Yuen Long, where a few hundred protesters had taken refuge from the tear gas, and some officers swung batons at demonstrators.
Thirteen people, including march organiser Max Chung, were arrested over the protest for offences such as unlawful assembly, possession of an offensive weapon and assault, according to police and local media.
Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority said 24 people were taken to five hospitals and as of Sunday morning, eight remained in hospital, with two in a serious condition.
Amnesty International criticised the police response on Saturday, calling it heavy-handed and unacceptable.
“The violent scenes in Yuen Long tonight were in part because Hong Kong police chose to inflame a tense situation rather than de-escalate it,” Man-kei Tam, the director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said in a statement.
“While police must be able to defend themselves, there were repeated instances today where police officers were the aggressors.”
Police said they used “appropriate force” because bricks and other objects were thrown at them.