HONG KONG: Anti-government protesters smashed windows of Hong Kong's Legislative Council on Monday (Jul 1) and tried to force their way into the building by ramming a metal trolley through the glass doors, as police responded with pepper spray.
At 6.36pm on Monday, the Legislative Council Secretariat issued a red alert calling for "all people" to leave the complex immediately.
The angry scenes ramped up tensions in the international financial hub, which has been shaken by historic demonstrations in the past three weeks - driven by demands for the withdrawal of a Bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.
READ: Hong Kong protesters take over roads on handover anniversary, police use pepper spray to disperse crowds
Democracy activists kicked off another large march through the city on Monday afternoon.
But that rally was overshadowed by small groups of mainly young, masked protesters who had seized three key thoroughfares in the morning, sparking renewed clashes with police after two weeks of relative calm.
Protesters wearing helmets and masks smashed windows at the city's legislature and tried to force their way into the building by ramming a metal trolley through reinforced glass doors.
Riot police inside the building wore gas masks as they squirted pepper spray at protesters, who unfurled umbrellas to shield themselves.
Some democratic lawmakers tried to intervene but had little luck persuading the protesters to withdraw.
The fresh wave of protests on the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule has plunged the city into further turmoil.
Earlier on Monday, thousands of demonstrators faced off with riot police who fired pepper spray to disperse some of them.
13 POLICE OFFICERS TAKEN TO HOSPITAL
Thirteen police officers were taken to hospital after protesters hurled objects containing an "unknown liquid" earlier on Monday morning, Hong Kong police said in a statement.
"During the road blockade and charging of police cordon lines by protestors at Lung Wo Road, Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road, some protestors hurled objects containing unknown liquid at police officers at about 9.30am," said the statement.
"Police officers at scene were injured and among them, some experienced difficulty in breathing and had swollen and itchy skin."
They were subsequently taken to a hospital for treatment.
The police condemned the "illegal acts", and said the organised crime and triad bureau is looking into the incident.
Members of the public are advised not to go to the Wan Chai and Admiralty areas due to the "chaotic situation", they added.
The anniversary of the handover of the former British colony to Beijing in 1997 has been marked in recent years by tensions about what many Hong Kong residents see as a relentless march towards mainland control.
Tensions spiralled on Jun 12 when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at anti-extradition protesters near the heart of the city, sending plumes of smoke billowing among some of the world's tallest skyscrapers.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's suspension of the Bill, following the largest and most violent protests in decades, has done little to pacify opponents who are demanding it be scrapped altogether.