HONG KONG: Twenty-five flights at Hong Kong airport were cancelled after protesters charged police barriers and clashed with riot police on Sunday (Sep 1) afternoon.
A large group gathered around bus stops at the airport’s terminal from 1pm, the Hong Kong government said in a statement.
“At around 2pm, the protesters started to charge water-filled barriers, pointed laser beams at the Airport Authority (AA) staff, and blocked roads with trolleys and mills barriers,” the statement added.
Operators of the Airport Express train said it had suspended services on Sunday afternoon, while black-clad protesters - hiding from CCTV cameras under umbrellas - built barricades at the airport bus station and attempted to stop traffic on the main road leading to terminals.
"At around 4pm today, a large group of protesters hurled numerous iron poles, bricks and rocks onto the track near the Airport Station of the Airport Express," police said in a statement through the Hong Kong government website.
"Some even trespassed on the track, seriously obstructing train services."
At 6pm, Hong Kong airport issued a statement saying the roads are "severely obstructed" and the Airport Express was still suspended.
The Airport Express service resumed at around 10.30pm, the airport authority said.
"Traffic between the airport and the city gradually resumed to normal in early evening," Hong Kong airport said.
"The AA (Airport Authority) has been working with relevant organisations to maintain flight operations to their best ability in order to clear the backlog of passengers.
"The AA condemns actions that blocked some entrances and exits to the terminals, obstructed traffic to the airport which affected passengers’ journeys, and damaged some airport equipment."
Outside one terminal at the international hub, protesters set off fire extinguishers, piled luggage trolleys into makeshift road blocks and smashed surveillance cameras.
The airport is covered by an injunction banning protesters from entering, imposed after a shutdown in August which ended in ugly clashes.
Protesters outside the airport, many holding umbrellas, chanted "Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!" as riot police watched on from inside the terminal building.
"We plan to disrupt activity at the airport to draw attention to what the government and the police are doing to us," said one 20-year-old protester, asking not to be named. "If we disrupt the airport more foreigners will read the news about Hong Kong."
City police said the demonstration at the airport was illegal and that protesters had "hurled objects" at officers and charged at barricades. There were no immediate reports of casualties at the airport.
Singapore's Consulate-General in Hong Kong said on its Facebook page that it has deployed a consular team at the airport's Terminal 1 arrival hall to provide travellers with advice and information.
"I want to go into the airport to find my sister, but I couldn't get in," Indonesian domestic helper Samirah told AFP.
Protesters have routinely ignored legal moves to ban their actions since the anti-government movement sprang to life three months ago.
The protests were sparked by an attempt by Hong Kong's Beijing-backed government to pass a now-shelved extradition Bill, but have expanded into a wider movement.
On Sunday, city sanitation workers were seen clearing debris and removing graffiti after a night of pitched battles between protesters and police.
Hours earlier, a huge fire burned in the city's commercial district as chaos ripped through the centre of a city usually renowned for its stability and prosperity.
"I'm really, really tired. I think many Hong Kong people had a sleepless night yesterday," said 18-year-old student protester called May. "I almost couldn't manage to get up, but I'm determined to go today."
Demonstrators on Saturday hurled petrol bombs at government buildings and police, who responded with tear gas and water cannon laced with chemical dye before making mass arrests inside the city's underground metro stations.
Police on Friday rounded up several high-profile activists and politicians in sweeping arrests, but police denied the sweep was timed specifically to weaken the weekend's protests.
More than 900 people have been arrested since June in connection with the protests.
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