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Protests, Clashes Continue in Hong Kong11/12 06:45

   Police and protesters battled outside university campuses and several 
thousand demonstrators blocked roads as they took over a central business 
district at lunchtime on Tuesday in another day of protest in Hong Kong.

   HONG KONG (AP) -- Police and protesters battled outside university campuses 
and several thousand demonstrators blocked roads as they took over a central 
business district at lunchtime on Tuesday in another day of protest in Hong 
Kong.

   The clashes followed an especially violent day in Hong Kong's five months of 
anti-government demonstrations, in which police shot one protester and a man 
was set on fire.

   Protesters littered streets with bricks and disrupted train service during 
the morning rush hour on Tuesday. Commuter train passengers were escorted along 
the tracks, and subways were shut because of disruptions.

   Police used tear gas in faceoffs with protesters in and around universities, 
where classes were canceled.

   Following a standoff outside Chinese University, scores of officers charged 
onto the campus after firing tear gas, arresting student protesters who tried 
to block their way with makeshift barricades, including a burning car.

   A few thousand protesters took over several blocks of the central business 
district at lunchtime. The demonstrators chanted "Five demands, not one less" 
holding up one hand with five outstretched fingers. Their demands include 
democratic changes and investigation of police treatment of protesters.

   Traffic was blocked on two major roads by the crowds, with half a dozen of 
Hong Kong's famous trams lined up unable to move. The words "Join Us" were 
spray painted on the front window of a halted double-decker bus abandoned by 
the driver and passengers and one of its windows was broken.

   Office workers filled the sidewalks and overhead walkways to watch the 
action, with some joining the protesters in chanting.

   One 24-year-old man, who would not give his name, said he was there to 
support the protesters and accused the police of using excessive force, a 
common complaint among the city's 7.4 million people.

   Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters and onlookers who were hurling 
abuse at the officers. At least one person was injured when he was struck on 
the head by a tear gas canister. But protesters returned by evening and were 
again blocking roads with bricks and commandeered buses.

   Recent weeks have been marked by escalating vandalism against shops linked 
to mainland China and train stations, and assaults by both protesters and 
pro-Beijing supporters.

   Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, speaking to news media after a weekly meeting 
with advisers, called the blocking of the morning commute "a very selfish act."

   "People from different sectors in society are holding fast to their 
positions and refusing to concede to violence or other radical actions," she 
said. "I hereby express my gratitude to those who are still going to work and 
school today."

   On Monday, a police officer drew his gun during a struggle with protesters, 
shooting one in the abdomen. In another neighborhood, a 57-year-old man was set 
on fire after an apparent argument.

   Both remained hospitalized Tuesday, the shot protester in serious condition 
and the man who was burned in critical condition, the Hospital Authority said.

   Video of another incident showed a policeman on a motorcycle riding through 
a group of protesters in an apparent attempt to disperse them.

   Police say those events are being investigated but defend the officers' 
actions as necessary for their own safety.

   Police spokesman Kong Wing-cheung said the burning had been registered as a 
case of attempted murder and called on the public to provide information about 
the assailant.

   "Hong Kong's rule of law has been pushed to the brink of total collapse," 
Kong said, calling those who defend or maintain ties with violent protesters 
"accomplices."

   In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang lambasted the U.S. and 
Britain over statements of concern over the spike in violence.

   "The United States and Britain pretend to be fair on this incident, but it 
only reveals how they confuse right and wrong and how hypocritical they are. 
And their verbal justice once again exposes their double standards and ulterior 
motives," Geng said at a daily briefing.

   China accuses the U.S. and other foreign powers of fomenting and encouraging 
the protests.

   Lam pledged Monday to stop the violent protests in comments suggesting 
harsher legal and police measures could be coming.

   "I do not want to go into details, but I just want to make it very clear 
that we will spare no effort in finding ways and means that could end the 
violence in Hong Kong as soon as possible," she said.

   Lam refused to accept the protesters' demands. "These rioters' actions have 
far exceeded their demands, and they are enemies of the people," she said.

   One of their five demands is for the government to stop labeling the 
demonstrators as rioters, which connotes that even peaceful protest is a 
criminal activity. They also want criminal cases to be dropped against 
protesters.

   In Washington, the U.S. government said it is watching the situation with 
"grave concern."

   "?We condemn violence on all sides, extend our sympathies to victims of 
violence regardless of their political inclinations, and call for all parties 
--- police and protesters --- to exercise restraint," State Department 
spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

   She urged the government to address the underlying concerns behind the 
protests and the protesters to respond to efforts at dialogue.

   Police said they arrested more than 260 people on Monday, raising to 3,560 
the number of arrests since the movement erupted in June. The Hospital 
Authority said 128 people were taken to hospitals, with one in critical 
condition and five others in serious condition on Tuesday.

   The protests began over a proposed law that would have allowed criminal 
suspects to be extradited to mainland China, where they could face opaque and 
politically sensitive trials. Activists saw the bill as another sign of an 
erosion in Hong Kong's autonomy and civic freedoms, which China promised would 
be maintained for 50 years under a "one nation, two systems" principle when the 
former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.

   Lam eventually withdrew the extradition bill but has insisted the violence 
stop before any further political dialogue can take place.

   District council elections on Nov. 24 are seen as a measure of public 
sentiment toward Hong Kong's government. Pro-democracy lawmakers have accused 
the government of trying to provoke violence to justify canceling or postponing 
the vote.


(KR)

 
 
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