At least two people are in serious condition in Hong Kong hospitals after a long day and night violence between police and protesters. An estimated 5,000 riot police fired tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and bean bags at tens of thousands of protesters as they forcibly cleared streets around the city’s Legislative Council in Admiralty.
By Thursday morning the crowds had largely dispersed around government headquarters – where police and protesters had pitched battles on Wednesday. The protesters are angry about plans to allow extradition to mainland China. Despite the widespread opposition, the government has not backed down. However, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) delayed a second reading of the controversial extradition bill and it is unclear when it will take place.
Confrontations went late into the night as crowds of mostly young, college-aged protesters were pushed back from the Legislative Council complex towards the city’s Central district. The protesters’ road occupation around government headquarters ended in violence after the police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets as demonstrators lurched forward throwing umbrellas and bricks.
At least 79 people were injured in the violence, with two remaining in serious condition, according to a spokesman for Hong Kong’s information bureau. Rubber bullets, pepper spray and hand-thrown tear gas were used to push back protesters who had occupied the city’s main thoroughfare near the government headquarters, as well as the roads around it, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Steven Lo Wai-chung confirmed.
There was an extremely heavy police presence around the Legislative Council building and the city’s Admiralty area Thursday morning. It remained unclear whether lawmakers would attempt to restart a second reading of a hugely controversial extradition bill with China that sparked the protests, amid rumors the debate may be suspended. Central government offices next door to the legislature were closed Thursday and Friday, according to a statement.