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Democracy

Hong Kong's 'Occupy' turns violent as protesters storm building

A group of pro-democracy activists occupying key areas of Hong Kong has resorted to force and violence. Four arrests were made after protesters forced their way into the city's legislature building.

Four men were arrested in the early hours of Wednesday after they tried to force their way into Hong Kong's legislature building. Three police officers were injured and are being treated at a hospital.

"At about 1 a.m., [1700 GMT, Tuesday] some protesters attempted to force their way into the LegCo Complex and caused damage to various parts of the building," police said.

Police said the four men were between the ages of 18 and 24 and that they had been arrested for criminal damage and assaulting a police officer.

Witnesses in the area said several dozen people had stormed the building and that police contained them using pepper spray and batons. The protesters used metal barricades and concrete slabs to smash the doors of the building, after penetrating a police cordon.

Morning sessions at the building were canceled.

'Isolated incident'

This was the first time protesters had forcefully broken into a public building. A democratic lawmaker at the scene, Fernando Cheung, told Reuters that he and others had tried to stop the activists from breaking into the building.

"This is a very, very isolated incident. I think it's very unfortunate and this is something we don't want to see happen because the movement so far has been very peaceful," he said.

On Sunday, after a poll revealed that 67 percent of Hong Kong residents wanted the protests to end, Chan Kin-man, one of the founders of the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement, said the occupation of streets may no longer suffice.

Wednesday's escalation came after the peaceful clearance of a protest camp (pictured above) around an apartment building on Tuesday following a court injunction filed by the building's owners.

Mass sit-ins have blocked key parts of the financial hub since September 28. The group has called for the resignation of Hong Kong city leader Leung Chun-ying and for free leadership elections to be held in the city in 2017. China's National People's Congress decided in August that any candidates would have to be vetted by Beijing before appearing on the ballot.

Demonstrations have been largely peaceful, but have caused major disruptions. In mid-October, violence broke out following the surfacing of a video which showed plainclothes police officers beating a handcuffed protester as he lay on the ground.

sb/se (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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