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Protesters, riot police clash amid renewed tensions in Hong Kong

Protesters build barriers as they block a road in Hong Kong's Kwun Tong district on August 24, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Tensions have once again escalated in Hong Kong as police and protesters clashed in an industrial district of the Chinese-ruled city after several days of an uneasy peace.

Scuffles broke out on Saturday when thousands of protesters, many wearing hard hats and gas masks, started marching through the working-class Kwun Tong area in Hong Kong, forcing riot police with shields and batons to block their way.

Protesters, shouting insults at the rank of police, pulled together a barricade of traffic barriers and responded with a barrage of stones, bottles and bamboo poles.

Fearing further riot acts, the authorities closed down four subway stations around Kwun Tong.

Reports said riot police was finally forced to fire tear gas to disperse rioters in the industrial district.

Hong Kong has for well over two months plunged to unrest and is the scene of massive anti-government demonstrations over an extradition bill that if enacted would allow local authorities to detain and extradite suspects to be tried in mainland courts.

Although the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese region has effectively backed away from the bill, protests have persisted with individuals sometimes resorting to violence and vandalizing government buildings.

Protesters are demanding the resignation of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and a permanent withdrawal of the controversial bill.

The international financial hub has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.

China has repeatedly warned against violence in the region and has already said foreign countries, mainly the United States and Britain, have been provoking the riots. Beijing has asked the two countries to stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.

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