Hong Kong police try to storm university building

(Laurel Chor/Getty Images)

Rubber bullets and petrol bombs used during prolonged standoff

One-Minute Read

Monday, November 18, 2019 – 6:26am

Police in Hong Kong have used tear gas to drive back dozens of protesters trying to leave a university campus following a tense standoff.

Hundreds of activists have occupied Polytechnic University for days but many tried to leave after dawn this morning.

However, they quickly turned back as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. In a statement, the police said tear gas was fired because “a large group of masked rioters… suddenly charged at cordons”.

Earlier, officers had attempted to enter the building but were met with a shower of petrol bombs and rocks. CNN says the protesters in the building are continuing to “hold authorities off with Molotov cocktails and bricks”.

The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse described a game of “cat and mouse” with police.

“The police fire tear gas and the water cannon advances, squirting noxious blue liquid,” he said.

“The protesters, crouching behind umbrellas, respond with petrol bombs and rocks fired from improvised catapults. The police vehicles retreat. The net result is zero.”

Police said protesters could leave the campus via Cheong Wan Road South Bridge – but urged them to drop their weapons and remove their gas masks.

The acting president of PolyU’s student union Ken Woo told broadcaster RTHK that at least 500 people remained inside the campus but some reports put the number at closer to 800.

Mr Woo said food supplies were running low inside the building but fresh water was available.

The Guardian says the building “has become the site of the most prolonged and tense confrontation between police and demonstrators in more than five months of political unrest”. A statement on Twitter last night said it had been “severely and extensively vandalised”.

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