Hong Kong police clear protest camp after clashes

AFP

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Fresh scuffles broke out Wednesday as Hong Kong authorities moved in to clear the main body of a major pro-democracy protest site, a day after more than 100 demonstrators were arrested.
Police wearing helmets and brandishing batons moved in to protect city workers as crowds surged forward to stop them tearing down barricades at the largest part of the Mongkok site.
Protesters said the movement's student leaders Joshua Wong and Lester Shum were arrested by police.
Tensions were running high the day after police used pepper spray on pro-democracy protesters at the camp, which has been the scene of some of the most violent clashes since the sit-ins began in on September 28.
"If we lose here, we won't lose our heart. We can go somewhere else (to occupy). It doesn't need to be here," Kelvin Ng, a 21-year-old protester, told AFP.
Pro-democracy protesters have been camped out on Hong Kong's streets for almost two months to demand fully free elections for the leadership of the southern Chinese city.
Police said in a statement they had arrested 116 people, including a 14-year-old boy, after Tuesday's clashes. Twenty police officers were injured, they added.
Police had also arrested a television news crew member who was covering the clearance of the site, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said, condemning the arrest.
Workers wearing "I love HK" T-shirts and red baseball caps initially removed barricades blocking the road at the adjacent larger site on Nathan Road on Wednesday, but protesters remained defiant.
"Please obey the injunction, leave immediately," a court bailiff told the crowd before the clearance action.
"I won't leave. It's been illegal from day one with or without the court order," said a protester wearing a yellow helmet and a mask who refused to give his name.
The clearance is the third since the high court in the semi-autonomous Chinese city granted injunctions to let authorities start clearing parts of the protest sites.
It comes as public support wanes for the demonstrators, who are protesting against China's restrictions on who will be allowed to stand in the 2017 chief executive election, and as the movement's leaders are split on the next move.
Demonstrators clashed with police in Mongkok last month after they tried to reclaim part of a protest camp which had been cleared out by authorities.
Officers used batons and pepper spray against protesters who shielded themselves with umbrellas, but were eventually forced into a partial retreat.

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