The Weekend Leader - Dozens injured in Hong Kong Xmas Eve clashes

Dozens injured in Hong Kong Xmas Eve clashes

Hong Kong


Christmas Eve here was marked by fresh clashes between police and protesters, with at least 25 injured as the country once again witnessed an exchange of Molotov cocktails and tear gas.

During the early hours of Tuesday night, hundreds of protesters and numerous riot control officers gathered at several shopping centres, Efe news reported.

Among the incidents that occurred during the night, a young man reportedly leaped from the first floor of Yoho Mall while running away from the police. He was later hospitalized and on Wednesday was in a stable condition, according to the official Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). It added that he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer.

At least 25 were injured in Tuesday night's clashes, with one in serious condition in hospital, RTHK said.

After 11 p.m. (local time), security forces announced they were going to carry out an operation to disperse and detain protesters blocking Nathan Street, the main avenue in Kowloon, with makeshift barricades.

An hour later, the police said that some of the protesters had refused to leave the area and that they had thrown Molotov cocktails at the Tsim Sha Tsui police station and set fire to an entrance of Mong Kok subway station.

The operator of the local subway, MTR, announced the closure of Mong Kok station and that of Tsim Sha Tsui for the rest of the night. Hong Kong metro usually operates all night over Christmas Eve.

Some protesters also smashed the glass doors of an HSBC branch and started a fire at the entrance. The bank became a target of the protest movement's rage after a fundraising platform for arrested and injured protesters was frozen for alleged money laundering offenses.

The government of Hong Kong issued a statement early Wednesday in which it said the acts of the protesters "seriously disrupted social order, affected the festive mood and obstructed other people from enjoying the festive season," which it described as "outrageous."

The government also criticized the presence of Hong Kong independence flags in protests, saying that promoting the independence of the Hong Kong " which belongs to China but retains a measure of autonomy until 2047 " is unconstitutional and "not conducive to the overall and long-term interest of Hong Kong society."

The massive protests began on the streets of Hong Kong on June 9 following the introduction of a contentious extradition bill, which was later withdrawn by the government, and have escalated to become a movement that seeks to improve Hong Kong's democratic mechanisms and to oppose Beijing authoritarianism.

However, some protesters have opted for more radical tactics than peaceful protest and violent clashes with the police have been common.IANS 

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