Police armed with pepper spray and batons clashed with demonstrators in Hong Kong, as fears grew on Sunday that officials would move in to clear the streets of pro-democracy protesters and end the standoff for good.
Large crowds of protesters scuffled with police overnight in the blue-collar Mong Kok district in Kowloon, a flashpoint that has seen violent clashes between pro-democracy student protesters and their antagonists over the weekend.
Police said the crowds had provoked officers with verbal abuse, while the students accuse police of failing to protect them from attacks by mobs intent on driving them away.
The students claim that police had allied with criminal gangs to clear them, but the government has vehemently denied it.
As the protests entered their eighth day today, the atmosphere on the streets was tense amid fears police may use pepper spray and tear gas to disperse them, as they did last weekend.
The city’s top leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, appeared on television on Saturday evening to once again urge everyone to go home, saying key roads paralysed by protesters need to return to normal.
“The government and the police have the duty and determination to take all necessary actions to restore social order so the government and the 7 million people of Hong Kong can return to their normal work and life,” Leung said.