HONG KONG – Police clashed with thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong’s Mong Kok neighborhood early today, leading to at least 26 arrests. Police said 15 officers were hurt in the fracas.
The confrontations were apparently fueled by protesters’ anger that police had cleared demonstrators out of Mong Kok streets early Friday, ending a sit-in that had blocked traffic for more than two weeks. The move seemed to galvanize supporters of the movement to return to the streets after work Friday.
Police used pepper spray and batons as they sought to disperse demonstrators who reoccupied key streets in the dense commercial district. Officers estimated that 9,000 people were in the area.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students, a key group supporting the protests, said demonstrators were being pepper-sprayed by police at close range.
Alex Chow, leader of the student group, confirmed to the media that it would meet with government officials Tuesday, with five representatives from both sides taking part.
The demonstrations began three weeks ago to denounce the rules for the territory’s 2017 election for chief executive. The rules, imposed by authorities in Beijing, limit candidates to two or three people approved by a special committee packed with pro-establishment figures.
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