HONG KONG: Hong Kong police on Monday (Aug 12) admitted to using undercover officers in last weekend's protests and defended their actions, following local media reports that police officers disguised as protesters were deployed to assist with arrests.
"We won't ask (the police) to stir up trouble, and we won't ask them to conduct illegal acts," Deputy Commissioner of Police Tang Ping-keung told reporters at a news briefing.
"Basically it's a decoy operation targeting some extreme violent rioters. On each occasion they used deadly force (with slingshots and petrol bombs); so our operation targeted violent rioters (who could cause potentially deadly injuries) to officers or members of the public."
Demonstrators were reportedly enraged at police apparently dressing in the black T-shirts worn by the anti-government movement to infiltrate the rallies and make surprise arrests.
One reporter said officers were filmed planting evidence in the bags of protesters and asked if the public could ever trust the police again.
The deputy commissioner replied: "I disagree with your allegation."
Police also displayed items confiscated from protesters during the rallies such as batons, slingshots and hammers.
Over the weekend, as demonstrators threw up barricades across the city, police shot volleys of tear gas into crowded underground train stations for the first time, and fired bean bag rounds at close range.
Scores of protesters were arrested on Sunday, sometimes after being beaten with batons and bloodied by police. One young female medic was hospitalised after being hit by a pellet round in the right eye.
Images of her lying on the ground with blood pouring from her face went viral and featured on posters calling for new demonstrations, including on some which "an eye for an eye".
Protesters responded by hurling bricks and spraying riot police with fire extinguishers and water hoses.
Officials said 45 people were hurt in the clashes.
On Monday, all flights in and out of Hong Kong were cancelled after thousands of protesters flooded the city's airport to denounce police violence.
READ: Scoot flight from Singapore to Hong Kong forced to turn back; SIA flight diverted due to airport protests
While operations resumed early on Tuesday, several flights remained cancelled.
Many of the posters and signs the protesters had placed throughout the terminals had been taken down, but graffiti - some reading "an eye for an eye" - had not yet been erased.
Protesters have said they plan to return to the airport later in the day to resume their demonstrations.