Hong Kong pro-democracy activists and riot police clashed in chaotic scenes around the city on Sunday, with police in riot gear chasing protesters through crowds of lunchtime shoppers.
Rallies in shopping malls on Hong Kong island and across the harbour in the Kowloon district began peacefully around midday with a few hundred people at each chanting “Free Hong Kong” and other slogans.
A few hours later, black-clad activists took to the streets and began trashing shops and metro stations and erecting road blocks.
Police said protesters threw bricks and petrol bombs at police, with one setting a police van alight in Kowloon’s Sha Tin district. Police made several arrests and used tear gas to disperse protesters, saying they used “minimum force”.
By Sunday night, most protesters had dispersed, but riot police remained on the streets in various districts.
The Hong Kong government said a large group of protesters threw 20 Molotov cocktail petrol bombs at Mong Kok police station in Kowloon on Sunday night. Local media said barricades outside the police station were set ablaze but police and firefighters extinguished the fires.
Television footage showed shoppers screaming and some injured when police charged inside a mall. The protesters, many wearing face masks to shield their identity, were often supported by shoppers.
In one mall, a group of riot police, shields out front and pepper spray canisters in hand, were forced to retreat by chanting shoppers until they were outside of the mall.
In another incident, a group of 50 shoppers inside a mall faced off against riot police outside, chanting “Hong Kong police mafia”. The shoppers cheered when police drove off.