17:10 GMT +316 December 2019
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    Riot police are seen near Causeway Bay MTR station during protests in Hong Kong

    Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters as Chaos Erupts in Wan Chai

    © REUTERS / Amr Abdallah Dalsh
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    HONG KONG (Sputnik) - Police repeatedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a crowd in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai area after crowds carrying foreign flags marched toward the government headquarters on Sunday.

    Officers in heavy riot gear moved into the commercial Wan Chai district in Hong Kong in order to disperse rallies. Police confirmed that an operation was about to begin after accusing radical protesters on Twitter of charging at their cordons and throwing petrol bombs in Wan Chai and Admiralty.

    "In face of the situation, Police officers are using appropriate force to disperse radical protestors in Admiralty and Wan Chai and will soon embark on a dispersal operation in Causeway Bay", they said, urging protesters to leave the site of events.

    Police officer holds a sign during a demonstration against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong, China June 12, 2019.
    © REUTERS / ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA
    Protesters demonstrate against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong

    The 17th weekend of anti-China demonstrations quickly descended into chaos as multiple clashes broke out across the autonomous city. The Global support rally in the commercial area saw a large group of protesters holding up flags of the United States, Japan, Switzerland, India and other countries, a correspondent said.

    They marched along the Hennessy Road, calling for international support for the pro-democracy movement. Many carried red flags with yellow stars arranged in a swastika with a black slash over it.

    The demonstration came under a barrage of tear gas soon after setting out, forcing protesters to rearrange. The march was halted again soon to allow for the distribution of umbrellas and other supplies.

    Police then occupied a pedestrian bridge, firing salvos of tear gas and rubber bullets at gas mask-wearing protesters who pulled back under the cover of umbrellas. One officer aimed his gun at the crowd.

    A group of more radical protesters clashed with police outside the Wan Chai subway station, which was ransacked by protesters and shut down. The public and reporters took shelter inside a bank office with ATM machines.

    A larger number of protesters continued to march toward the government building after police withdrew from the bridge after they had shards of glass and brick debris hurled at them.

    Over the past few months, Hong Kong has been facing a wave of rallies against proposed amendments to the city's extradition law. Protests often turn violent after demonstrators begin engaging in clashes with the police.

    © AP Photo / Vincent Yu
    Police block the road ahead of a march by protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 7, 2019.

    In early September, the controversial extradition bill was formally withdrawn but protesters continued rallying, demanding universal suffrage, an end to legal procedures against fellow demonstrators and an investigation into alleged police violence. The law enforcers strongly deny any claims of disproportionate use of force.

    Beijing views the situation in Hong Kong as a result of foreign interference in China's domestic affairs and expresses full support for the actions of the local authorities.

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