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19.01.2020 Asia

Police officers beaten bloody by Hong Kong protestors

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
LISTEN JAN 19, 2020
REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Two police officers were beaten bloody by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday as violence erupted at a rally calling for greater democratic freedoms in the semi-autonomous Chinese island city.

Trouble flared when police ordered the authorised gathering to disperse after officers conducting stop and searches on nearby streets had water bottles and paint thrown at them by angry crowds.

A group of plainclothes officers who were speaking with organisers were then set upon by masked protesters, who beat them with umbrellas and sticks.

Two officers were seen with bloody head wounds as colleagues shielded them from further attacks.

Riot police swept into the area and fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Multiple arrests, serious injuries
Clashes ensued with police making multiple arrests, including one protester who had blood streaming from the back of his head.

Hong Kong's protests have raged for seven months after being sparked by a now-abandoned proposal to allow extraditions to the authoritarian mainland, where the opaque legal system answers to the Communist Party.

They soon developed into a wider movement calling for greater freedoms in what is the most concerted challenge to Beijing's rule since the former British colony's 1997 handover.

At Sunday's rally, thousands gathered in the heart of the central commercial district, chanting slogans such as "Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom".

Some waved American, British and Hong Kong independence flags. There were many families and children present and the atmosphere was peaceful until police ordered the crowds to disperse.

Beijing refuses further concessions
The frequency and ferocity of Hong Kong's protests have died down over the last month, but signs of the political unrest are everywhere, from graffiti daubed on walls to huge fences surrounding government buildings.

Among the key demands of the protest movement are an independent inquiry into the police, an amnesty for 7,000 people arrested on the fringes of previous demonstrations, and fully free elections.

Beijing and local leader Carrie Lam have refused further concessions and have defended police tactics.

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