HONG KONG: Protesters who clashed with police at Hong Kong's airport on Tuesday night (Aug 13) "overstepped the bottom line of a civilised society", said the city's government in a statement condemning the night's violent acts.
Chaos gripped Hong Kong's airport throughout the day as protesters staged a sit-in that delayed or cancelled hundreds of flights, saw police fire pepper spray and arrest at least five people.
"A large number of protesters had assembled at the airport since yesterday afternoon, paralysing airport operations and causing serious disruption to both inbound and outbound travelers," said the government in a statement on Wednesday morning.
"At night, some violent protesters went even worse as they besieged and assaulted a traveller and a reporter, as well as obstructed an ambulance crew from taking the traveller to hospital," it added.
Scuffles broke out between protesters and travellers, and vigilantism occurred when demonstrators turned on two men.
This came after police recently admitted they disguised themselves as activists to make arrests, a move which has sent paranoia soaring among protesters.
The first man was held for about two hours before eventually being led away in an ambulance. Riot police briefly deployed pepper spray and batons to beat back protesters while they escorted the vehicle away from the departures hall.
Another man, wearing a yellow journalist vest, was surrounded, zip-tied and then beaten by a small group who accused him of being a spy. He was later identified as a journalist working for China's state-controlled tabloid Global Times.
"The government severely condemns these violent acts, which are outrageous and have overstepped the bottom line of a civilised society," it added.
"The police will take relentless enforcement action to bring the persons involved to justice."
Hong Kong's police in a separate statement condemned the "radical and violent acts", saying that five people were arrested on Tuesday for offences such as unlawful assembly and for assaulting police officers.
A policeman had also pulled out a gun at one point in the night during clashes.
"Police officers were deployed as per a request from the Airport Authority Hong Kong to assist ambulance officers and an injured visitor to leave," said the police.
"However, numerous protestors continuously hurled miscellaneous objects and aimed laser beams at police officers, during which a police officer was assaulted and his baton was snatched.
"In order to protect himself from threats to life or serious injury, the officer drew a pistol and stayed on guard."
Police added that two officers were also taken to the hospital for injuries.
On Wednesday morning, flights were departing the airport largely on schedule, with the vast majority of protesters having left the building.
The airport's website showed dozens of flights taking off overnight and listed hundreds more scheduled to depart throughout the day, although many were delayed.