Hong Kong’s night of mayhem (Photo Feature)

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Police officers detain a protestor near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. Hong Kong police have swooped in with tear gas and batons as protesters who have taken over a university campus make an apparent last-ditch effort to escape arrest. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Police in Hong Kong has fired rubber bullets and tear gas in an attempt to pin back anti-government demonstrators fleeing a besieged university campus where hundreds were holed up with petrol bombs and other homemade weapons amid fears of a bloody crackdown.

After chaotic scenes overnight and a pre-dawn attempt by police to storm the Polytechnic University, police On Monday afternoon broke through the barricades of the campus to arrest those cornered inside.

Earlier, dozens had tried to escape from the university after a night of mayhem in the semi-autonomous Chinese city in which roads were blocked, a bridge was set on fire and a police officer was shot with a bow and arrow.

Many protesters, dressed in regular clothes and without gas masks, made a run for it, dodging tear gas canisters and sponge grenades, only to be forced back inside.

Some were arrested, tackled to the ground, while others scrambled and tripped over barricades and fences as police pointed guns at them and threw punches. Some were pulled back into the campus by other protesters.

Police said they fired three live rounds when “rioters” attacked two officers who were attempting to arrest a woman. No one was wounded and the woman escaped amid a dramatic escalation of the unrest that has plunged Hong Kong into chaos for more than five months.

Demonstrators are angry at what they see as China’s meddling in the freedoms promised to Hong Kong when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. They say they are responding to excessive use of force by police.

Protesters stand amid smoke on a bridge over a highway leading to the Cross Harbour Tunnel in Hong Kong. [Vincent Yu/AP Photo]
Protesters stand amid smoke on a bridge over a highway leading to the Cross Harbour Tunnel in Hong Kong. VINCENT YU/AP PHOTO
Police fire tear gas at pro-democracy demonstrators outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University. [Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE]
Police fire tear gas at pro-democracy demonstrators outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University. JEROME FAVRE/EPA-EFE
A riot police officer points his gun at protesters attempting to escape the campus during clashes with police. [Thomas Peter/Reuters]
A riot police officer points his gun at protesters attempting to escape the campus during clashes with police. THOMAS PETER/REUTERS
An anti-government protester uses a bow during clashes with police outside Polytechnic University. [Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]
An anti-government protester uses a bow during clashes with police outside Polytechnic University. ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA/REUTERS
Protesters have accused the police of using excessive force. [Achmad Ibrahim/AP Photo]
Protesters have accused the police of using excessive force. ACHMAD IBRAHIM/AP PHOTO
A protester attempting to leave the campus is detained by police. [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
A protester attempting to leave the campus is detained by police. TYRONE SIU/REUTERS
Riot squads cordoned off the campus after they attempted to storm the site. [Achmad Ibrahim/AP Photo]
Riot squads cordoned off the campus after they attempted to storm the site. ACHMAD IBRAHIM/AP PHOTO
Hong Kong authorities have branded the protesters "enemies of the people", saying they would never achieve their goals through violence. [Achmad Ibrahim/AP Photo]
Hong Kong authorities have branded the protesters “enemies of the people”, saying they would never achieve their goals through violence. ACHMAD IBRAHIM/AP PHOTO

This originally appeared in Al Zajeera.

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