Dozens of radicals detained as police refute 'raid' rumor

HONG KONG (China Daily/ANN) - Hong Kong police said Monday morning that they were conducting a dispersal operation at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and disputed news reports that they had “raided” the campus. 

Hong Kong police said Monday morning that they were conducting a dispersal operation at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and disputed news reports that they had “raided” the campus. 

Police moved to clear radicals at a university in Kowloon after a weekend standoff, leading to dramatic scenes with smoke billowing from multiple fires at the campus as the work week kicked off.

Police started to clear away debris including umbrellas, bricks and furniture items down one of the city's busiest tourist and commercial districts, to make way for traffic.

The Cross-Harbour Tunnel, a main artery linking Kowloon with Hong Kong Island, and next to the PolyU campus, was closed as the Monday morning commute began due to damage to the administration building and toll booths, the Transport Department said.

In a press release issued early Monday, police confirmed dispersal and arrest operation around 5.30 am. "Meanwhile, rioters gathering inside the campus set fire and caused extensive damage.

Police reiterate that we did not “raid” the premises of the PolyU. Fires were observed in various locations in the PolyU premises. Explosives, flammable substances and dangerous goods also pose threats to anyone therein. Police appeal to everyone inside the campus to leave immediately," reads the press release. 

Earlier, police had said live ammunition may be used in clearing the site. The university said that radicals had damaged laboratories and taken “dangerous chemicals.”

Police detained dozens of radicals in Tsim Sha Tsui East, near the PolyU campus, where clashes have been the most intense in recent hours. At least 30 could been seen on television feeds sitting on the ground with their hands restrained. It was unclear how many radicals and students were still on campus.

Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas to try to disperse black-clad radicals near the junction outside the PolyU campus. Radicals also streamed out of the campus, running across the road to the Hong Kong History Museum and occupying the junction.

Police’s cordon line remains outside Gun Club Hill Barracks, the site of a People’s Liberation Army garrison. Television images showed other radicals holding umbrellas while wandering through the campus streets, which were littered with bricks and other debris.

At daybreak, radicals remained in control of most of the campus. In one outdoor area, some radicals made gasoline bombs while others dozed while wearing gas masks. Two walked about with bows and quivers of arrows, while many stared at their smartphones.

A lull settled on the area as the president of the university said in a video message that that police have agreed to suspend their use of force.

Jin-Guang Teng said police would allow radiclas to leave and he would accompany them to the police station to ensure their cases would be processed fairly.

“I hope that you will accept the proposed temporary suspension of force and leave the campus in a peaceful manner,” he said.

It seemed unlikely the radicals would accept the offer given that they would all likely be arrested.

On Sunday, radicals used bows and arrows, and one arrow struck a media liaison officer in the calf. Photos on the department’s Facebook page show the arrow sticking out of the back of the officer’s leg through his pants.

As riot police moved in from all sides, some radicals retreated inside the university. Others set fires on bridges leading to it.

A huge blaze burned along much of a long footbridge that connects a train station to the campus over the approach to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, a major road under Hong Kong’s harbor that has been blocked by radicals for days.

Thirty eight people were injured overnight Sunday, HK's Hospital Authority said.

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