Chaos erupts at Hong Kong airport as protesters clash with police

Chaos erupts at Hong Kong airport as protesters clash with police

Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters
Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters during a mass demonstration after a woman was shot in the eye, at the Hong Kong international airport, in Hong Kong, China, on Aug 13, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

HONG KONG: Protesters clashed with police at Hong Kong's international airport on Tuesday evening (Aug 13) after flights were disrupted for a second day, plunging the former British colony deeper into turmoil.

The scuffles broke out in the evening between police and protesters, after an injured person was taken out of the main terminal by medics.

Several police vehicles were blocked by protesters, and riot police moved in, pushing some protesters back and using pepper spray at times.

Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters
Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters during a mass demonstration at Hong Kong international airport, in Hong Kong, China, on Aug 13, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

In a series of tweets at about 11pm, the Hong Kong police said a visitor at the airport had been assaulted and was "currently being besieged" by protesters.

"A visitor was assaulted and is currently being besieged by a large group of protesters at the Hong Kong International Airport," said the police. "He requires immediate medical attention, but the protesters concerned have been obstructing ambulance officers from rendering medical assistance."

Man surrounded by protesters at Hong Kong airport
An unidentified man (centre) is shouted at by protesters during a demonstration at Hong Kong's International Airport on Aug 13, 2019. (Photo: AFP / Philip FONG)

A medical staffer helps a detained man who protesters claimed was a police officer from China
A medical staffer helps a detained man, who protesters claimed was a police officer from mainland China, during a demonstration at the airport in Hong Kong on Aug 13, 2019. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)

"As per a request for assistance from the Airport Authority, the police appeal to the protesters to stop their obstruction so that the visitor can receive timely medical attention."

They also stressed this was "not a dispersal operation", but an attempt to escort the person safely to a hospital.

The injured man had earlier been surrounded for more than two hours inside the airport by protesters who were convinced he was an undercover police officer, according to AFP.

Another man who was mobbed and tied up by protesters was later identified as Global Times reporter Fu Guohao, according to a tweet by Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the publication.

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Hong Kong's Airport Authority said operations at the airport had been "seriously disrupted".

"Participants of the public assembly blocked all the passageways to the airport restricted area, and passengers were unable to proceed to go through the immigration procedures," said the airport in a statement. "There were also many disputes between participants of the public assembly and passengers in the terminal buildings."

Hundreds of flights were cancelled or suspended on Tuesday as demonstrations at the aviation hub entered a fifth day. 

All check-ins were cancelled on Tuesday afternoon, with some flights continuing to operate for the rest of the day.

Thousands of protesters made barricades using trolleys to prevent passengers from passing through security gates. Some formed a human chain, linking arms to stop passengers from getting to the departures area.

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Flag carrier Cathay Pacific urged passengers to postpone non-essential travel on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ten weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters have roiled the Asian financial hub as thousands of residents chafe at a perceived erosion of freedoms and autonomy under Chinese rule.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Hong Kong to exercise restraint and investigate evidence of its forces firing tear gas at protesters in ways banned under international law.

READ: Violence will push Hong Kong down 'path of no return': Carrie Lam

"Take a minute to look at our city, our home," Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, her voice cracking, at a news conference in the government headquarters complex, which is fortified behind 1.8m-high water-filled barricades.

"Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?"

China this week condemned some protesters for using dangerous tools to attack police, calling the clashes "sprouts of terrorism". They present President Xi Jinping with one of his biggest challenges since he came to power in 2012.

Source: Agencies/CNA/nc(hm)

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