Fresh violence has broken out in Hong Kong as hundreds of unidentified men attacked protest barriers in the city, clashing with anti-election law protesters and security forces.
On Monday, dozens of men, many wearing surgical masks and armed with crowbars and cutting tools, tried to forcefully remove the metal barricades that protesters had set up.
This caused scuffles between demonstrators and anti-protest groups which are opposed to the campaign against the election law. A group of police officers eventually intervened.
Police said they arrested two men who tried to engage in clashes with the protesters.
“Before the police came, young men wearing masks and dark clothing came to pick fights with people,” Kevin Ng, an eyewitness, said.
Chinese state media have blamed the US for being behind the protests in Hong Kong. The claim has been rejected by US State Department.
The protests were triggered after China refused to allow open nominations for the city’s next chief executive in 2017, forcing the voters to choose from a list of two or three candidates selected by a nominating committee.
China has said it will introduce universal suffrage for the city’s 2017 election, 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 its leadership returned to China after about a century of British colonial rule.