Hong Kong students hunker down as government dismisses curfew rumours

Hong Kong students hunker down as government dismisses curfew rumours

Protesters take instant noodles from a pile of food at Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Protesters take instant noodles from a pile of food at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong on Nov 14, 2019. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters paralysed parts of the Chinese-ruled city for a fourth day on Thursday, forcing schools to close and blocking highways, as students built campus barricades and the government dismissed rumours of a curfew.

Thousands of students hunkered down at several universities, surrounded by piles of food, bricks, petrol bombs, arrows with heads wrapped in cladding, catapults and other homemade weapons.

Police said the Chinese University, in the New Territories, had become a "weapons factory and an arsenal" with bows and arrows and catapults.

Hong Kong protesters make molotovs
Protesters make molotov cocktails at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in Hong Kong on Nov 14, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Dale De La Rey)

"Their acts are another step closer to terrorism," Chief Superintendent (Public Relations) Tse Chun-chung told a briefing, referring to protests on all campuses.

He also said police would temporarily avoid directly clashing with "high-spirited rioters" to give themselves a breather and avoid injuries.

hong kong protests nov 14
A man stands before the blocked cross harbour tunnel outside The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (L) where students and protesters have barricaded themselves in on Nov 14, 2019. (Photo: AFP / DALE DE LA REY)

China's Global Times tabloid, owned by the state-run People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, said on Twitter that the Hong Kong government was expected to announce a weekend curfew after some of the worst violence in decades in the former British colony.

It deleted the post after a short time. The Hong Kong government said the rumours were "totally unfounded".

hong kong protests nov 14 (1)
A protester makes molotov cocktails inside The Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov 14, 2019. (Photo: AFP / ISAAC LAWRENCE)

READ: Elderly man fighting for life after being hit by brick during Hong Kong protest skirmish

Protesters have torched vehicles and buildings, hurled petrol bombs at police stations and trains, dropped debris from bridges on to traffic below and vandalised shopping malls and campuses, raising questions about how and when more than five months of unrest can be brought to an end.

Police said arrows were fired at officers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University in the morning.

A protester releases a fire arrow with his bow to light a barricade
A protester releases a fire arrow with his bow to light a barricade at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Nov 13, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)


Several universities announced there would be no classes on campuses for the rest of the year.

Baptist University, next to a People's Liberation Army base in Kowloon Tong, issued an "urgent appeal", telling students to stay away from campus.

"Your safety is so dear to our hearts and to your parents' and friends’ hearts," it said. "Please stay away from harm’s way."


READ: Protesters blockade universities, stockpile makeshift weapons as chaos grips Hong Kong

hong kong protests nov 14 (1)
A man walks past an entrance to The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which has been barricaded by students and protesters on Nov 14, 2019. (Photo: AFP / ISAAC LAWRENCE)

PETROL BOMBS AND BRICKS

Hundreds of protesters occupied roads in the city's business district, home to some of the world's most expensive real estate, in the middle of the day.

Across the harbour, black-clad protesters and students maintained their blockades of major roads, including the entrance to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel that links Hong Kong island to the Kowloon area, and a highway between Kowloon and the rural New Territories.

Police fired tear gas near the tunnel early on Thursday to try to clear the protesters. Roads were strewn with bricks in Stonehenge-like formations and other debris, causing widespread traffic jams.

Protesters threw petrol bombs at the Kowloon-side tunnel turnstiles late in the evening and the tunnel remained closed.

At the Polytechnic University, near the same tunnel entrance, hundreds of students wearing gas masks readied for confrontation. They were practising throwing petrol bombs and archery in a half-empty swimming pool.

Boxes of petrol bombs were placed at vantage points overlooking roads, including the tunnel, which has been blocked since Wednesday evening.

READ: Frustration, safety fears at finance firms as protests paralyse Hong Kong

Violence has escalated in recent days, with police shooting and wounding one protester at close range and one man described as a "rioter" dousing a man with petrol before setting him on fire.

The man who was shot was in stable condition. The man who was lit on fire suffered burns to his torso and head, and was in critical condition.

There was also a tense standoff between chanting protesters and police in the New Territories town of Sheung Shui.

Student protesters use an improvised slingshot to fling tennis balls across a barricade as leisure
Student protesters use an improvised slingshot to fling tennis balls across a barricade as leisure at Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

MAN DIES AFTER FALL FROM HEIGHT

The demonstrations were initially spurred by what many residents see as the stifling by Beijing of freedoms guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" formula put in place when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Anger grew over perceived police brutality as the protests intensified. Police deny being heavy handed and say they have shown restraint in the face of potentially deadly attacks.

Anti-government demonstrators gather to protest in Central, Hong Kong
Anti-government demonstrators gather to protest in Central, Hong Kong, China November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Police said on Wednesday violence in the Chinese territory had reached a "very dangerous and even deadly level".

They said 64 people were injured during Wednesday's clashes, with two men in critical condition. There were no further details about the injuries they sustained.

A man had died after falling from an unspecified height in the district of Tsing Yi in the New Territories on Wednesday, but initial investigations showed were no suspicious circumstances.

Police said they would appoint 100 Correctional Services Department staff, who look after prisons, to reinforce the streets.

“I cannot see how adding 100 special police will help much," democratic lawmaker Tanya Chan told Reuters. "I don't know why the government doesn't adopt measures that can soften the tension rather than intensify conflict.”

China denies interfering in Hong Kong and has blamed Western countries, including Britain and the United States, for stirring up trouble.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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Source: CNA/Reuters/jt/ec

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