Police in Hong Kong are preparing to clear a university which has been occupied by protesters for three days, with the city’s embattled leader vowing that anyone under 18 will not be immediately arrested.
Around 100 anti-government protesters remain in Polytechnic University and are slowly running out of food as the police continue to lay siege to the campus.
Carrie Lam said 600 people had left the campus, including 200 who are under 18 years old.
“We will use whatever means to continue to persuade and arrange for these remaining protesters to leave the campus as soon as possible so that this whole operation could end in a peaceful manner,” she said.
She stated that any people under 18 that leave will be able to go home but that their personal data will be recorded first.
Those inside have been attempting to escape without crossing paths with the police, who have been arresting those who have been leaving.
Some protesters went so far as to abseil down from a bridge outside as the building has been bombarded by tear gas and rubber bullets, while others have tried to slip out through a sewage pipe.
Activists fired arrows and catapulted petrol bombs towards the officers.
The UK government remains “seriously concerned” about events in Hong Kong and urges for “calm and restraint”, according to a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Hong Kong has been rocked by five months of protest, with the situation intensifying as police warned this week they will use live bullets if protesters remained at the campus.
The violence seen over the past few days has been among the worst in six months of demonstrations, with 38 people injured on Sunday alone, the hospital authority said.
On Monday, Hong Kong’s high court struck down a face mask ban aimed at protesters trying to hide their identity to avoid arrest.
The court said that the ban infringes on fundamental rights.
The government used its emergency powers to impose the ban last month.
The court said it did not consider anti-mask laws unconstitutional in general, but in this case, the law infringed on fundamental rights further than was reasonably necessary.
The Hong Kong protests were sparked by proposed legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
The bill has been withdrawn, but the protests have spread into a wider resistance movement against Beijing’s perceived growing control, along with calls for full democracy for the territory.