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Water Cannons, Tear Gas and Drawn Weapons: Hong Kong Update

Kari Lindberg, Annie Lee, Aaron Mc Nicholas and Natalie Lung
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Water Cannons, Tear Gas and Drawn Weapons: Hong Kong Update

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong police deployed water cannons for the first time, fired multiple volleys of tear gas and at least two officers drew weapons in running skirmishes with protesters in the 12th weekend of unrest in the Asian financial center.

Police and protesters were involved in several standoffs in the western New Territories district of Tsuen Wan on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam held a meeting with former officials and other prominent people to find a way out of the impasse that has rocked the former British colony.

The return to violence followed large but peaceful protests last weekend. On Friday, protesters formed a human chain across the city, while a plan to disrupt airport transportation services on Saturday wasn’t successful. Historic mass marches opposing legislation easing extraditions to China began peacefully in June, and have since widened into a broader movement against Beijing’s increasing grip.

Key Developments:

Police deployed water cannons, fired tear gas and some drew weapons on Sunday as protests turned violent in the Tsuen Wan district.Police arrested more than two dozen protesters on SaturdayChief Executive Lam seeks to build a dialogue platform to address roots of discontentU.K. consulate staffer Simon Cheng was released by China on Saturday after more than two weeks of detention

Here’s the latest:

Weapons drawn (8.30 p.m.)

At least two police officers drew weapons after they had come come under attack from protesters. Police said a weapon was fired, according to Now TV and TVB, without providing further details. Running battles continued into Sunday night in Tsuen Wan after a march in the area. By 8.30 p.m., most of the streets in the district appeared to have been cleared by police.

Some protesters regathered in the Sham Shui Po area, where they faced off with police in a tense standoff.

Water canons on the streets (7.30 p.m.)

Police used water cannons to clear barricades set up by protesters in Tsuen Wan, after firing multiple rounds of tear gas to try to disperse demonstrators who had occupied roads. Running battles continued There were no protesters present at the time the water cannons were used, the South China Morning Post reported on its website.

With train stations in the area closed down, remaining protesters

Rain march (Sunday 2 p.m.)

People took cover from the persistent rain and filled the stands and pitch of the Kwai Chung sports stadium, the starting point for Sunday’s rally. The march from the stadium was granted late-night approval after organizers appealed an earlier objection by authorities.

“The rainy weather is good for the protesters but it’s bad for the police, who are wearing heavy gear. It also makes their tear gas ineffective,” said Gloria Mak, a 25-year-old assistant to a Japanese company.

Train service suspended (Sunday 11.30 a.m.)

MTR Corp., operator of Hong Kong’s rail network, suspended train service to stations near the planned Tsuen Wan march. The company said in a statement that the Kwai Fong, Tsuen Wan and Tai Wo Hau stations would be closed from 1.30 p.m. until further notice.

On Saturday, MTR suspended service on parts of its Kwun Tong line because of protests in the area.

Operations Director Adi Lau Tin-shing said the current situation was the company’s biggest challenge in its 40 years of operation and that the station closures were an unavoidable decision taken on the grounds of safety.

Police condemn ‘radical’ behavior (Sunday, 3:02 a.m.)

Police said “radical protesters” in Saturday’s clashes used electric saws to damage a number of smart lampposts, and hurled hard objects, bricks and petrol bombs at officers. They arrested 19 men and 10 women, aged between 17 and 52, for offenses including the possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers, the police said in a statement.

Bricks and bamboo poles (Saturday 4:20 p.m.)

Police fired tear gas to break up demonstrators blocking a road in the Kwung Tong area. Protesters were seen breaking bricks into smaller pieces and using bamboo poles to keep police from getting close to a barricade they erected. Elsewhere, video footage showed a so-called smart lamppost that was toppled and notes declaring “no totalitarian surveillance” were pasted on it.

Protesters split up from the authorized march route and some regathered in the neighborhood of Wong Tai Sin, the scene of clashes earlier this month. Police fired tear gas and made arrests after the demonstrators blocked off roads and disrupted traffic.

Lam seeks dialogue platform (Saturday 3:10 p.m.)

About 30 people were invited to the meeting organized by Lam in Government House, including ex-transport chief Anthony Cheung and Cardinal John Tong, the former bishop of Hong Kong, RTHK reported. Lam said the meeting was not a “dialogue platform” but a gathering to share ideas on how to build dialogue.

“I do not expect dialogue to easily resolve the deadlock, stop demonstrations, or to provide solutions to problems,” she said in a Facebook post. “But continuing to fight is not the way out.”

Cathay issues warning (3.30 p.m.)

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said it will not tolerate employees supporting or taking part in illegal protests ahead of “planned activities” by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions on Aug. 26.

The Airport Authority Hong Kong obtained a High Court order to extend an interim injunction granted on Aug. 13 banning protesters from unlawfully obstructing access to the airport. That injunction covers Cathay City, “which is the operational hub for our global operations and as such includes facilities that are absolutely critical to our flight operations,” Cathay said in Saturday’s statement.

Operations at the city’s airport were disrupted earlier this month when protesters occupied the building.

U.K. Consulate Staffer Freed (10:39 a.m.)

Chinese police released a U.K. consulate staffer from Hong Kong after more than two weeks in detention. Simon Cheng was set free on Saturday after he was held for violating the Public Security Administration Punishment Law, police in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen said in a post on the Weibo social media platform. He failed to return home to Hong Kong from an Aug. 8 meeting in Shenzhen.

Upcoming Schedule

The weekend concludes with Sunday protests in the Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung areas, starting mid-afternoon. Relatives of police also plan a march to the official residence of Chief Executive Lam in support of local law enforcement

--With assistance from Justin Chin, Sheryl Tian Tong Lee and Venus Feng.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kari Lindberg in Hong Kong at klindberg13@bloomberg.net;Annie Lee in Hong Kong at olee42@bloomberg.net;Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net;Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, ;Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Stanley James, Andrew Janes

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