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Hong Kong police fire rubber bullets at protesters

Demonstrators want an independent investigation into allegations of police brutality during the protests.

Protesters stand near burning items during a protest in Hong Kong (Kin Cheung/AP)
Protesters stand near burning items during a protest in Hong Kong (Kin Cheung/AP)

By Kin Cheung, Associated Press

Hong Kong police have fired rubber bullets at protesters who besieged a police station in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The clashes came amid continuing defiance from demonstrators despite the government’s promise to kill a proposed law that sparked months of demonstrations

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced two days ago that her government will formally withdraw an extradition Bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Many saw it as a glaring example of the city’s eroding autonomy since the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.

But the decision failed to appease protesters who have taken up a new slogan, “Five key demands, not one less”.

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Police shot tear gas from inside a police station (Kin Cheung/AP)

They want an independent investigation into allegations of police brutality during the protests, the unconditional release of those detained, no more labelling of the protests as riots, and direct elections of the city’s leaders.

More than a thousand angry protesters surrounded the Mong Kok police station for a second night, demanding accountability over a police raid of the Prince Edward subway station on August 31.

Police set up barriers at the entrance of the police station, and later fired tear gas and rubber bullets to ward off the crowd.

Rumours have been circulating on social media accusing police of covering up the alleged death of a protester during the earlier raid at the underground station, in which they were videoed swinging batons and shooting pepper spray at people inside a train.

Protesters want surveillance camera recordings of the raid to be released to determine the truth.

The Prince Edward subway station was closed during the evening rush hour after demonstrators staged a protest against the alleged police violence.

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People pay their respects to protesters who were injured on August 31 outside Prince Edward station in Hong Kong (Kin Cheung/AP)

The protest movement was triggered by the extradition Bill but the focus has since shifted to alleged use of excessive force by police in the increasingly violent clashes.

Separately, more than 1,000 people gathered on Friday at a rally in a public park near Hong Kong’s legislative complex, chanting “Fight for freedom”.

Medical workers also rallied at the office of the hospital authority.

Earlier in the day, students in blue school dresses and surgical masks like those worn by protesters held hands outside the Maryknoll Convent School, a Catholic girls’ school.

People from other schools, including graduates clad in the protesters’ trademark black, also joined similar chains.

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Students form a human chain outside the Maryknoll Convent School in Hong Kong (Kin Cheung/AP)

Ms Lam has rejected the protesters’ other demands, saying a police watchdog agency investigating police misconduct was credible. Critics say the agency is led by her allies and does not have the power to summon witnesses.

Police say they have used the minimum amount of force necessary to quell riotous demonstrations. The protesters at Mong Kok retreated on Friday when riot police confronted them, but some demonstrators set off street fires using a pile of cardboard boxes.

PA

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