Hong Kong protesters face off with police despite coronavirus fears | News | DW | 29.02.2020
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Hong Kong protesters face off with police despite coronavirus fears

Police fired tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the demonstrators. They were gathering to commemorate the six-month anniversary of violent clashes at Prince Edward subway station, which left several injured.

Hong Kong police fired tear gas and pepper spray on Saturday to disperse hundreds of black-clad protesters in Hong Kong, who returned to the streets even amid coronavirus fears.

The protesters, some armed with petrol bombs, held the rally to mark six months since authorities stormed a subway station and arrested demonstrators.

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Hong Kong activists shift focus to coronavirus

People gathered in and around Mong Kok district and the Prince Edward subway station, where protesters and police clashed violently on August 31. Some activists were injured during the August raid, which sparked an outcry over what protesters said was excessive use of force.

Officers arrived around 8 p.m. local time (1230 UTC), about an hour after people started gathering. They used weapons to disperse the crowds, firing about 10 rounds of tear gas, according to South China Morning Post newspaper.

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Demonstrators lit fire on Nathan Road in Kowloon district, while others set up road blocks, shutting down the Mong Kok subway station.

Some chanted "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our time," while others called for the police force to be disbanded.

Estimations of the number of protesters at Saturday's rally vary; the South China Morning Post marked it as 100, while the Reuters news agency reported there were hundreds.

Between June and January, Hong Kong police fired more than 16,000 rounds of tear gas, 10,000 rubber bullets, 2,000 beanbag rounds and 19 live rounds, leaving more than 2,000 people injured, according to the South China Morning Post.

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Water cannons have also routinely been used in response to demonstrations. Since June 2019, Hong Kong has seen months of protest. The demonstrations were spurred by the introduction of a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. Although Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, announced that she would suspend the bill, protests have continued.

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lc/jlw (Reuters)