HONG KONG, CHINA: Baton-wielding Hong Kong riot police fired warning shots and tear gas early today after a riot erupted in a busy district when officials tried to shift illegal hawkers, RTHK radio reported.
Television footage showed one officer pointing his gun at crowds of protestors on the streets of Mongkok who hurled bricks, bottles and pieces of wooden pallets at police in the worst clashes since pro-democracy demonstrations in late 2014.
Police fired at least two warning shots in the air, RTHK radio and the South China Morning Post reported.
RTHK said pitched street battles erupted after officials tried to move illegal food sellers.
Police said they acted after crowds ignored calls to disperse.
“To ensure public safety and public order, police took resolute actions, including using baton and pepper spray, to stop the unlawful violent acts,” a police statement said, without mentioning any warning shots.
Police said three men were arrested and three officers were injured and had been sent to hospital for treatment.
RTHK later reported dozens had been arrested.
Mongkok subway station was closed today morning “due to public activities” and trains were not stopping there, transport operator MTR said.
It was the worst unrest in Hong Kong since mass pro-democracy protests in late 2014 sparked after Beijing said candidates for the city’s next leader must be vetted by a loyalist committee ahead of a public vote.