New scuffles have broken out between Hong Kong riot police and pro-democracy activists in a district where police cleared protesters earlier in the day.
Police used pepper spray and batons to fend off a large crowd of people who had gathered in Mong Kok, and several protesters were seen knocked to the ground or carried away by police.
The chaotic scenes unfolded hours after police moved in to clear tents, canopies and barricades from the smaller protest zone across Victoria Harbour from the main occupied area in the heart of the financial district.
The dawn operation – the third in recent days by police to retake streets from protesters – came hours after Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying sought to defuse a bitter stand-off with student-led democracy protesters by reviving an offer of talks over democratic reforms in the city.
However, Leung warned police wouldn’t refrain from clearing protest sites while holding talks, and the latest clashes were likely to make it harder to resolve the crisis with protesters, who were already angered by a video of a group of officers kicking a handcuffed activist.
Leung said the protests, which have disrupted traffic in key roads and streets in three business districts since September 26, could not go on indefinitely. Protesters are pressing for a greater say in choosing the semi-autonomous Chinese city’s leader in an inaugural direct election, promised for 2017.
Students and activists oppose Beijing’s ruling that a committee stacked with pro-Beijing elites should screen candidates in the election. That effectively means that Beijing can vet candidates before they go to a public vote.