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HK vows to restore social order, with police dismantling barricades(2)

2014-10-14 08:44 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping


Police started removing barricades set up by the protesters on both sides of Hong Kong's harbor Monday morning.

The move to dismantle blockades on the Queensway, Harcourt Road, Jackson Road, around the Arsenal Street police headquarters and in Mong Kok came as the student-led occupation of main roads in the heart of Hong Kong entered its third week.

The barricades placed on lorries on the roadside were ready to be taken away. Protesters in the areas were not resisting the operation, but were monitoring the police action.

A number of helmeted police were on standby, while officers used loud hailers to tell protesters that they were not clearing the site, but only trying to retrieve equipment that belongs to the force and the government.

In Mong Kok, police successfully removed barricades at the junction of Argyle Street and Shanghai Street, enabling five lanes to reopen to traffic.

The move came after protesters had allowed the junction of Argyle and Portland Street to reopen. But police's attempt to remove barricades on Mong Kok Road failed after they were confronted by demonstrators there.

The police has again called on protesters to clear major roads of obstacles and reduce the size of the occupation zones.

Chief Superintendent Steve Hui also urged protesters to clear Queensway in Admiralty to allow tram services to run normally again. He warned occupy leaders and other citizens against using social media to encourage people to expand the protests.

Hui also criticized protesters in Mong Kok after another rowdy night during which scuffles broke out between police and people manning barricades.

He described Mong Kok as a "high-risk area" where troublemakers may gather. A total of 47 people had been arrested at the protest there so far, he said.

The chief executive has said the government doesn't want to clear protesters from the streets unless it has to. In an interview with local media, Leung said he doesn't regard the protests as a revolution, but believes they are part of a mass movement that has spun out of control.

Leung also said the decision to use tear gas on protesters in Admiralty a fortnight ago was made by the police although he was involved in the general handling of the situation.

He said the police was trying different methods to get protesters to leave the streets, and they did not want to resort to force. But if that day does come, the police will use the minimum force required and would try its best to reduce the repercussions.

He added that he doesn't want to see young people get hurt.

Three men were arrested for common assault and possession of offensive weapon after clashes broke out between opponents and protesters at the main protest site at Admiralty on Monday.

Chief Superintendent Steve Hui said more police had been deployed to the area for increased security and appealed everyone to remain calm.

He told a news conference that the protesters had put public interest at stake and increased the risk of confrontation.

Protesters have reinforced their road barricades in Admiralty after some of the barriers were dismantled by groups of anti- Occupy protesters.

Earlier in the afternoon, hundreds of people opposed to the Occupy movement arrived at the protest site. Scores of masked men rushed to a barricade on Queensway and confronted protesters.

Angry taxi drivers who were strongly against the protests which had seriously affected their business also rallied at one barricaded road with a row of 12 taxis, demanding an end to the protest.

"Open the roads," the group, which also included truck drivers, chanted. Taxi drivers have given protesters a deadline of Wednesday evening for all barricades to be lifted.

As the scene descended into chaos, even passersby got caught up in the violence. Brian Tsui, who said he's not a protester, claimed he was just walking by when he was punched by several men.

The tension later eased as the most of the crowd were dispersed.

The police said they will continue removing barricades on occupied streets soon after operations in Mong Kok and Central successfully cleared seven road sections, allowing a partial resumption of traffic.

Obstacles at 27 locations were removed at around 5:30 a.m. Monday morning when the number of protesters manning them were at a low.

The chief superintendent has warned the protesters not to create problems or even challenge the police doing their duty.

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