86 protesters arrested in Hong Kong clashes


Police in Hong Kong have detained 86 protesters who engaged in clashes with security forces during an operation to clear barricades in a key protest site.

The people were apprehended on Tuesday after they scuffled with law enforcement forces overseeing dozens of workers who were dismantling makeshift barriers in a small part of a busy shopping street in the Mong Kok district.

Among the detainees, who are accused of violating a court order over the clearance of the area, unlawful assembly, and assaulting police, was lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, known as Long Hair.

Police said nine officers were wounded during the scuffles.

Enforcing the court order, the workers cleared Argyle Street in Mong Kok in about five hours.

Last week, a small area in the central Admiralty district, which is another main protest area next to the Hong Kong government headquarters, was cleared under a court order.

Private companies and associations have been seeking court injunctions in order to clear the main roads in the city.

Taxi drivers have also been trying to obtain court orders to clear blocked roads. They say traffic disruption caused by the protests has negatively affected their business.

The protests began late September after China said there would be no open nominations for the region’s next chief executive in 2017. Voters would choose from a list of two or three candidates selected by a nominating committee.

China has said it will introduce universal suffrage for Hong Kong’s 2017 elections, but wants a committee to approve the candidates.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. The financial hub has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since 1997, when it returned to China after about a century of British colonial rule.

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