Protesters fired flaming arrows and threw petrol bombs and bricks during clashes with riot police at the besieged Chinese University in Hong Kong (CHUK) on Tuesday night as the city entered its third day of widespread protests and travel disruption.
CHUK was the scene of battles between police and protesters throughout Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Riot police fired thousands of rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, who responded with bricks and petrol bombs.
Police claimed the protesters also fired flaming arrows — stolen from the university’s sport’s complex — at police, as well as at least one flare that hit an officer.
Police displayed some of the arrows they retrieved from the scene at a press conference on Wednesday, claiming they could have pierced the protective gear being worn by officers.
As the smoke cleared on Wednesday morning, protesters worked to barricade all road and rail entrances to the campus and prepared for another night of violent clashes with riot police.
Authorities defended the use of force, claiming they needed to regain control of a bridge from which protesters were dropping objects onto a roadway below.
“The police have a duty to ensure public safety is maintained,” Security Secretary John Lee told reporters. “That’s why we had to take charge of the bridge formerly controlled by the protesters.”
But on Wednesday morning, protesters remained in control of the bridge, and all other access points to the university were shut off. In response, the police sent a ship to evacuate mainland students who claimed that protesters had attacked them and vandalized their rooms.
The police also claimed the university had been turned into a “weapons factory.”
“A university is supposed to be a breeding ground for future leaders, but it became a battlefield for criminals and rioters,” Chief Superintendent John Tse Chun Chung told reporters Wednesday. “What’s worse, we have strong suspicions that the school was used as a weapons factory as several hundred petrol bombs were thrown on campus in a single day.”
The police announced that they fired 1,567 tear gas canisters, 1,312 rubber bullets, 380 bean bag rounds and 126 foam grenades during Tuesday’s clashes.
Wednesday marked the third day of widespread protests designed to bring the city to a standstill. Beginning in the early morning, protesters once again barricaded entrances to subway stations, damaged trains and buses, and blocked major roads and streets throughout the city, including the central financial hub. As evening fell on Wednesday, protesters continued to set up new roadblocks as police tried to disperse the crowds.
As a result of the disruption, the government announced that all kindergarten, primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong would remain closed on Thursday.
This week has been one of the most violent of the protest movement, which is now entering its sixth month. A police officer shot a protester on Monday, and a few hours later protesters set a man on fire.
Police said they arrested 147 people on Tuesday, in addition to the 260 people arrested on Monday.
Despite the large scale of the police operations already taking place this week, authorities in Beijing are demanding stronger action.
Beijing’s liaison office in the city published a statement claiming that Hong Kong is “sliding into the abyss of terrorism,” and called on the Hong Kong government, police and judiciary to “decisively adopt all necessary means to forcefully crackdown on various acts of violence and terrorism.”
Cover: Pro-democracy protesters with their homemade gears take their position outside the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. Protesters in Hong Kong battled police on multiple fronts on Tuesday, from major disruptions during the morning rush hour to a late-night standoff at a prominent university, as the 5-month-old anti-government movement takes an increasingly violent turn.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)