Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

Protesters set fire to Hong Kong university campus to deter police

Officers respond to use of bows, arrows and petrol bombs by demonstrators

Protesters in Hong Kong set fire to a university campus on Monday to stop surrounding police officers moving in, after they threatened to fire live rounds on the demonstrators.

Early on Monday, police warned "rioters" to stop using lethal weapons to attack officers and halt other acts of violence, saying officers would respond with force and possibly live bullets. The warning came an hour after an officer was struck by an arrow.

Several loud blasts were heard around dawn on Monday before a wall of fire lit up an entrance to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, AFP reported.

What appeared to be a police attempt to enter the campus was repelled by protesters determined to hold their ground.

Police said they had fired three live rounds in the early hours of Monday at a protest site near the university but that no one appeared to have been hit.

On Sunday there were clashes outside a university, where protesters were hiding behind makeshift shields and hurling petrol bombs at police while blocking a tunnel link.

Tear gas and water cannon were used against protesters outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus.

Police said one officer was treated in hospital after being hit in the leg with an arrow and another had his visor struck by a metal ball, although he was not hurt.

Protesters set alight an armoured truck with petrol bombs as police tried to flush out those who barricaded themselves inside.

They created a cordon around the university so they could move in on protesters from all sides.

About 200 protesters have assembled an arsenal of petrol bombs and bows and arrows to resist.

Police have used live rounds in a few isolated incidents .

Five months of anti-government protests have caused turmoil in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

It has posed the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Mr Xi has said he is confident Hong Kong's government can resolve the crisis.

Demonstrators, angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in the former British colony, which has had autonomous status since returning to Chinese rule in 1997, said they were responding to excessive use of force by police.

"The protesters have been reacting to the police," said Joris, 23, a civil engineer. "We haven't fought back as much as we could. I would be prepared for jail. We are fighting for Hong Kong."

Protester Ah Lung, 19, said: "We’ve been trapped here, that’s why we need to fight until the end. If we don’t fight, Hong Kong will be over."

Beijing denies interfering in Hong Kong's affairs and has blamed foreign influences for the strife.

Several blocks from the university, black-clad protesters gathered in Nathan Road, another major thoroughfare, digging up pavements and using bricks to block roads.

They shouted: "Liberate HK, revolution of our time."

Police said on Sunday that an officer fired a bullet but did not give details. Police shot and critically wounded a protester on November 11.

Updated: November 18, 2019 05:13 AM

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