Flights resume after violent clashes at Hong Kong airport


A traveller takes a smartphone photo near placards and posters placed by protesters at the airport in Hong Kong (Vincent Thian/AP)
A traveller takes a smartphone photo near placards and posters placed by protesters at the airport in Hong Kong (Vincent Thian/AP)

Flights have resumed at Hong Kong’s airport after two days of disruptions marked by outbursts of violence.

The scuffles have highlighted the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the region following months of unrest.

The airport – a major international hub – had closed check-in for remaining flights late on Tuesday afternoon as protesters swarmed the terminal and blocked access to immigration for departing passengers.

A protester shows a placard to travellers as they continue their sit-in rally at the airport in Hong Kong (Vincent Thian/AP)

Most of the protesters left after officers armed with pepper spray and swinging batons tried to enter the terminal, fighting with demonstrators who barricaded entrances with luggage carts.

The burst of violence included protesters beating up at least two men they suspected of being undercover Chinese agents.

Airport security appeared unable to control the crowd, and paramedics later took both men away.

Police have acknowledged using “decoy” officers, and some protesters over the weekend were seen being arrested by men dressed like demonstrators — in black and wearing face masks.

Protesters surround a man carrying a t-shirt baring the words “I love police” who protesters claimed was a police officer from mainland China (Vincent Thian/AP)

Hong Kong police said they arrested five people for unlawful assembly, assaulting police officers and possessing weapons.

The airport disruptions escalated a summer of demonstrations aimed at what many Hong Kong residents see as an increasing erosion of the freedoms they were promised in 1997 when Communist Party-ruled mainland China took over what had been a British colony.

Those demonstrating are demanding Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam step down and scrap proposed legislation under which some suspects could be sent to mainland China, where critics say they could face torture and unfair or politically charged trials.

Ms Lam has rejected calls for dialogue, saying Tuesday the protesters were threatening to push their home into an “abyss.”

PA Media
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