Anti-extradition bill protesters walk among tear gas as they attend a march in Hong Kong on Sunday. Reuters
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are set to defy Chinese authorities with another two major rallies later Sunday, a day after police fired tear gas to disperse them in one of the city's most renowned tourist districts.
Tsim Sha Tsui, a harbourside district known for its luxury malls and hotels, was filled with acrid plumes of tear gas on Saturday night as small groups of hardcore protesters battled police in streets usually brimming with tourists and shoppers.
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Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has seen two months of protests and clashes triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law that quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reforms.
Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing this week signalled a hardening stance. Dozens of protesters were charged with rioting and the Chinese military said it was ready to quell the "intolerable" unrest if requested.
But the largely leaderless protest movement remains unbowed.
Two simultaneous marches are planned for Sunday afternoon as well as a city-wide strike on Monday, making further clashes all but inevitable.
One of Sunday's marches will try to end in a park near the Liaison Office, the department that represents China's central government in the semi-autonomous hub.
Two weeks ago the office was pelted with eggs and paint in a move that infuriated Beijing and sparked the rapidly escalating warnings from the mainland.
Slingshots and tunnels
The last fortnight has seen a surge in violence on both sides with police repeatedly firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse increasingly hostile projectile-throwing crowds.
A mob of pro-government thugs also attacked demonstrators, putting 45 people in hospital, with many accusing the police of being too slow to respond.
This weekend has seen no let up in the violence.
In Tsim Sha Tsui masked demonstrators smashed the windows of cars in a police parking lot and daubed nearby walls with graffiti.
One team of protesters created a large slingshot -- held up by two members -- to launch bricks at the building.
Others put up barricades on busy shopping thoroughfares and temporarily blockaded a cross-harbour tunnel.
Police said they arrested "over 20 people", bringing the total number of arrests to more than 200 since the protest movement exploded on 9 June.Agence France-Presse
The once stable international hub has been convulsed by weeks of huge, sometimes violent rallies calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.
Tens of thousands of people defied authorities to march through the streets of the financial hub in an unsanctioned rally on Sunday. But it descended into violence outside the city government's offices in the late afternoon as police battled small groups of radical protesters.
A hardcore group of violent protesters armed with shields and throwing rocks were sprayed with water cannon. The group smashed down a barrier erected around the government's parliament building.
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