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Violent Clashes as HK Protesters Retake Camp
International

Violent Clashes as HK Protesters Retake Camp

Protesters in Hong Kong clashed violently with police Saturday as they reoccupied a protest camp mostly cleared the previous day, leading to multiple arrests and jeopardizing government talks aimed at ending a political stalemate.

Clashes erupted on a busy main road in the bustling Mongkok district. Activists rushed to rebuild makeshift barricades in an area police had opened to traffic 24 hours earlier, while thousands of others staged a sit-in at the protest camp that has existed for nearly three weeks, according to AFP.
Hong Kong police said in a statement released early Saturday they had made 26 arrests in confrontations with a crowd that had swelled to 9,000 people by 3 am (1900 GMT), with 15 officers sustaining injuries in the commotion.
It was the third consecutive night that violence has broken out after a fortnight of comparative calm -- a development that risks sinking only recently resurrected plans to hold talks between student leaders and the city’s Beijing-backed authorities.
The Asian financial hub has been rocked by demonstrations calling for free elections and the resignation of the city’s leader Leung Chun-ying.
Protesters have held sit-ins at three major intersections causing significant disruption to a city usually known for its stability.
China has insisted that Leung’s successor must be vetted by a loyalist committee before standing for election in 2017, a proposal protesters have dismissed as “fake democracy”.
On Thursday the government had made a dramatic U-turn and announced a resumption of talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), one of the groups leading the ongoing protests, after abruptly pulling out of discussions a week earlier.
But questions were soon raised over whether the talks could achieve a substantive breakthrough, with the government unwilling to cede to protesters’ core demands and Leung adamant that police would continue to clear demonstrator-held barricades.
In a statement released shortly before renewed violence broke out in Mongkok, the HKFS called on the government to stick to a timetable of talks slated for next Wednesday.
But it warned that the clearance of the camp earlier in the day had already “damaged the foundation of talks”.

 

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