Hong Kong protests: 800 students under siege in university as police threaten live bullets

Dozens of demonstrators at the Polytechnic University tried to escape the compound only to be forced back inside choking on the tear gas and dodging sponge grenades. Others were tackled to the ground by police and arrested while some escaped by hopping over barricades as protesters armed with petrol bombs and other weapons refused to bow to police demands to surrender. Last weekend saw violence in the Chinese-ruled city continue as a police officer was shot with a bow and arrow, abridge was set on fire and roads were blocked.

Democratic lawmaker Hui Chi-fung told Reuters: “The police might not storm the campus but it seems like they are trying to catch people as they attempt to run.”

Police said in a statement that officers has been appealing to the “rioters” to leave for the past week but their calls fell on deaf ears. 

They said: “All our warnings were ignored. Our message was loud and clear, the violence has escalated to rioting.” 

They warned the university had been turned into a “powered key” because “toxic and dangerous chemicals” had been stolen from the laboratory. 

Tang Siu Wa, a volunteer with the Protect the Children group, told the Guardian police had organised a “set-up”, urging students to leave the building but arresting them when they try to do so. 

“People getting tired but they don’t want to surrender,” added the 41-year-old. 

A spokesman for the university’s Student Union said: “Because most of the emergency relief team and first-aiders have been arrested and taken away, there are insufficient resources and personnel within campus to treat the injured.” 

He described the situation as “a severe humanitarian crisis”. 

A total of 154 people between the ages of 13 and 54 were arrested over the weekend. 

Nineteen-year-old student Dan broke down in tears as he told of his lack of hope for the protesters holding out in the campus. 

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He sad: “We need all Hong Kongers to know we need help. I don’t know how much longer we can go on like this. We may need international help.” 

Another young demonstrator, a 24-year-old man who called himself “Be Patient” said he was on the verge of suffocation in the crush to escape. 

“We couldn’t move at all,” he said. “The police didn’t stop … they still used rubber bullet and sponge rounds to attack us. We’re talking about a distance of one metre.” 

The Hospital Authority said 38 people were wounded overnight on Sunday. 

Reports suggest some had been suffering from burns caused by chemicals in jets fired from policewater cannons. 

Police said they fired three live rounds when “rioters” attacked two officers who were attempting to arrest a woman, adding that no was was wounded and the woman escaped. 

Demonstrators want to see an end to what they consider Chinese meddling in Hong Kong’s promised freedoms when the then British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. 

They also say they are protesting against the police’s heavy-handed approach to marchers. 

China says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula granting Hong Kong autonomy, while the city’s police deny accusations of brutality and say they show utmost restraint. 

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