Advertisement

More than 200 arrested in Hong Kong as city reels from worst violence in weeks

WATCH: The rise of protests around the world, explained

Hong Kong awoke to what is expected to be a day of relative calm on Sunday following a violent night in which protesters set fire to metro stations and vandalized buildings, including an office of China’s official news agency Xinhua.

READ MORE: Hong Kong protesters defy ban, attack news agency as chaos continues

More than 200 people were arrested in one of the worst outbreaks of violence in recent weeks as around five months of protests show no signs of abating. Demonstrators are angry at perceived Chinese meddling with Hong Kong’s freedoms since the city returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, a charge which China denies.

Cat-and-mouse clashes between riot police and demonstrators continued into the early hours of Sunday morning after police broke up an assembly of thousands on Saturday afternoon by firing tear gas into a park.

Police in Hong Kong use tear gas, arrest at least 1 protester as demonstrations enter 22nd week
Police in Hong Kong use tear gas, arrest at least 1 protester as demonstrations enter 22nd week

With no major demonstrations planned for Sunday, a clean-up operation was underway at the Xinhua offices, one of the buildings targeted by groups of black-clad protesters who fled the park to the business district, hurling petrol bombs and bricks along the way.

Story continues below advertisement

While protesters have previously vandalized buildings of mainland Chinese firms or those perceived as pro-Beijing, the targeting of Xinhua as a key symbol of the mainland’s presence in Hong Kong is one of the most direct challenges to Beijing yet.

READ MORE: Pro-democracy activist barred from Hong Kong election as city nears recession

Xinhua condemned the attack by what it said were “barbaric thugs” who broke doors and security systems and threw fire and paint bombs into the lobby.

When Reuters visited early Sunday, some cleaning staff could be seen sweeping glass from the floor through broken doors and windows, as tourists curiously eyed the destruction.

Demonstrators at California gaming convention hand out pro-Hong Kong t-shirts
Demonstrators at California gaming convention hand out pro-Hong Kong t-shirts

Hong Kong police said they had arrested more than 200 people overnight for offenses including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage, and wearing masks which is now illegal under a revived colonial-era emergency law.

READ MORE: Hong Kong falls into recession as protests deal ‘comprehensive blow’ to economy

Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and deployed a water cannon at protesters during Saturday and early Sunday, they said, as the violence spilled from Hong Kong island across the water to the northern Kowloon side.