MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - Hong Kong protesters have reoccupied the Mong Kok district, a core protest zone, early on Saturday, causing violent clashes with police.
"Riot police clashed violently with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong on Saturday as demonstrators reoccupied a camp mostly cleared the previous day, leading to multiple arrests and jeopardizing talks aimed at ending a political stalemate," the Guardian reports.
The media outlet points out that Hong Kong police officers used "batons and pepper spray" against Occupy Central student protesters, who protected themselves with umbrellas. However, they were forced to retreat. Activists have grasped an opportunity to restore barricades, while thousands of other Occupy Central participants "staged a sit-in" at their camp, the media source reports, citing an AFP correspondent who was on the scene.
According to the police, about 30 individuals were arrested and 15 officers were injured during the violent clashes amid a crowd of 9,000. The outbreak of violence has put the preplanned negotiations between student leaders and the city's government at risk.
While the number of protesters has faded since the beginning of the month, the increasing tensions this week have brought thousands back into the streets.
Andy Tsang, Hong Kong’s Police Commissioner, has stated that law enforcement officers were "extremely tolerant" towards protesters but failed to prevent the rioters from becoming more aggressive, "radical and violent."
"To these protesters, you may think that your illegal acts have prevented the police in going about our duties, disrupted our deployments and even forced us to retreat. Superficially, that may be the case. But let me tell you this: these illegal acts are undermining the rule of law, undermining (what) Hong Kong has been relying on to succeed," Tsang said, as cited by Reuters, during a news conference.
Later on Saturday, the turmoil died down while police were holding their positions away from the barricades. The students claim they will not allow police to clear the area. "We will stay and fight till the end," the bespectacled 18-year-old protest leader Joshua Wong told Reuters.
About 1,000 Occupy Central participants remain camped out in Hong Kong's streets. Protesters have expressed their concerns regarding the forthcoming talks with the government next week, as Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying stressed on Thursday, October 16, that Beijing would not abolish its decision to "vet candidates for the 2017 election," the Guardian underscores.