Hong Kong anti-government protesters crowded shopping malls in running clashes with police on Sunday, with several suffering bloody wounds a day after parts of the Chinese-ruled city became a battleground after five months of unrest.
A human chain in the upmarket Hong Kong island mall of Cityplaza, in Taikoo Shing, turned into a bloody face-to-face conflict with police, running up and down escalators where families with young children had been window shopping just minutes before.
Police said protesters had vandalized a restaurant after a peaceful chanting of slogans.
Several people were wounded, one man in a white tee-shirt being beaten with sticks by protesters. Another man lay in a pool of blood on the pavement.
Broadcaster RTHK said district councillor Andrew Chiu was among the wounded and that part of his ear had been bitten off. It was not immediately possible to verify the report.
A kitchen knife lay on the ground outside the mall.
“These police are not what they used to be,” said Julie, 24, giving police the middle finger. “They come in here and push us around. It is not right.”
Police made several arrests.
There were scuffles, confrontations and vandalism in malls in the New Territories towns of Tai Po, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin, where police fired pepper spray as protesters hurled abuse.
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, which Britain returned to Chinese rule in 1997, battled police across the territory’s main island on Saturday, furious at Communist Party leaders in Beijing and perceived Chinese meddling with Hong Kong’s freedoms, which China denies.
They have vandalized Hong Kong businesses seen as being pro-China and in July daubed China’s Liaison Office, the key symbol of Chinese sovereignty, with graffiti.
Cleaners swept up broken glass at the Hong Kong office of China’s official Xinhua news agency on Sunday, one of the buildings vandalized on the 22nd straight weekend of protests when activists hurled petrol bombs and set fire to metro stations.
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.
“The practice of the black rioters once again shows that ‘stopping the violence and restoring order’ is Hong Kong’s most important and urgent task at present,” a spokesperson for Xinhua said in a Facebook post.