HONG KONG – Protesters who have barricaded themselves in a Hong Kong university partially cleared a road they were blocking and demanded that the government commit to holding local elections on Nov. 24.
One lane of the Tolo Highway was cleared in both directions Friday morning, but the road remained closed after workers sent to clean up shattered glass and other remaining debris were threatened by protesters with bows and arrow and hard objects, authorities said.
“Since the highway is still filled with hard objects and devoid of any road signs or traffic cones, reopening the road would certainly cause danger to road users,” a government statement said.
The protesters at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said the road would be blocked again and warned of other unspecified consequences if the government didn’t meet their demand within 24 hours.
The district council elections are seen as a barometer of public sentiment in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, which has been riven by anti-government protests for more than five months. Pro-democracy activists say the government may use the escalating violence as a reason to cancel the elections.
The police, meanwhile, said they would investigate the death of a 70-year-old man who was hit in the head by a brick as a murder case.
The man died of injuries Thursday night, and the Hong Kong government expressed outrage over what it called “the malicious acts of the rioters.”
In London, Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng was pushed to the ground by activists who were following her and shouting at her, injuring her hand, the Chinese Embassy said.
“We express strong indignation and unequivocally condemn the activists,” the embassy said in a statement. “Now, they are taking such violence abroad and into the U.K.”
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called the attack “barbaric” and said it violated the principles of a civilized society.
Students and other protesters have taken over major campuses in Hong Kong, building barricades and stockpiling gasoline bombs and other weapons.
A masked protester at Chinese University announced in a 3 a.m. statement to assembled media that the group would clear the road for 24 hours.
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