Tear gas and water cannon fired at Hong Kong protesters

Riot police in Hong Kong have fired water cannon, tear gas and pepper spray during clashes with anti-government protesters.

The latest violent confrontations, which saw some demonstrators hurl petrol bombs at official buildings, follow weeks of pro-democracy unrest in the city.

An anti-government protester throws a molovot cocktail during a demonstration
Image: Petrol bombs were thrown by some anti-government protesters

It will fuel fears of escalating violence in the run up to China’s National Day on 1 October, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

Thousands of protesters, many clad in black with umbrellas and carrying pro-democracy posters, sang songs and chanted Stand With Hong Kong, Fight For Freedom as they marched on government offices, in defiance of a police ban.

Blue-coloured water is sprayed towards anti-government protesters during a demonstration
Image: Police used water cannon in an attempt to break up the demonstration

Some of them tore down and burned signs congratulating China’s Communist Party ahead of the anniversary, while others sprayed graffiti and smashed windows.

The protests were sparked in June by a planned law, now ditched, that would have allowed the extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China.

However, they have since expanded into wider demands for democracy, with many angry about what they see as creeping Chinese interference in the former British colony.

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Anti-government protesters set up a barricade
Image: The long-running protests have expanded into wider demands for democracy

Hong Kong returned to China’s control in 1997 under the so-called “one country, two systems” policy, which guaranteed freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland.

Beijing has rejected claims of increasing interference in Hong Kong and has accused foreign governments, including the US and Britain, of fanning anti-China sentiment.

Hong Kong’s government has already scaled down National Day celebrations in the city, cancelling an annual fireworks display and moving a reception indoors.

In recent weeks, gangs of of pro-Beijing supporters have staged counter-protests, leading to rights between the opposing camps.

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