Tear gas, petrol bombs mar 10th weekend of Hong Kong protests

PROTESTS: Riot police deploy tear gas to disperse demonstrators during a protest in Wan Chai district of Hong Kong on Sunday. Hong Kong demonstrators blocked roads and surrounded police stations, hurling projectiles as officers fired tear gas to try to disperse them in the 10th weekend of anti-China protests in the city. Kyle Lam/Bloomberg

Hong Kong demonstrators clashed with police across the city Sunday, with officers again resorting to tear gas to try to disperse protesters hurling projectiles and petrol bombs in the 10th weekend of anti-China protests in the city.

Demonstrators fanned out to different neighborhoods across the city, surrounding police stations, hurling projectiles at officers and disrupting traffic. Police fired tear gas in various neighborhoods, including in a metro station in Kwai Fong. Authorities had denied permits for protests in all but Victoria Park, but demonstrators took to the streets anyway.

Riot police were filmed beating some protesters, many of whom wore yellow hard hats and gas masks. One officer was taken to the hospital after suffering burns from a petrol bomb thrown in the upmarket shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui.

The protests, sparked in June by a bill easing extraditions to the mainland, have evolved into the biggest challenge to Chinese control since the U.K. relinquished its former colony in 1997. The social unrest is having an increasing impact on the economy and daily life in one of the world's most densely crowded cities, raising concern that Beijing will use force to restore order.

Police made more arrests on Sunday after detaining 16 people on Saturday. The demonstrators have been scattering to different points in the city to try to stay ahead of the police, in what has been labeled flash-mob protests. Local media reported that police may be dressing as protesters and infiltrating their ranks to help with detentions.

By Sunday night a three-day sit in at Hong Kong's international airport was winding down. Thousands of demonstrators had greeted passengers with "Free Hong Kong" chants. Only departing passengers with tickets or boarding passes and valid travel documents were being allowed to enter the check-in area at Terminal 1.

The demonstrations across the city continued despite authorities denying permission for the gatherings as city officials struggle to diffuse the protests that are now in their third month. Pressure from China to contain the unrest is on the rise.

China's civil aviation authority told Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong's main airline, to ban all employees who supported or joined the recent protests from flying to the mainland, one of the strongest signs yet that Beijing is losing its patience with the demonstrations.

Cathay suspended a pilot from flying who had been detained while participating in a protest, the airline said in a statement. It also fired two workers for "misconduct." They allegedly leaked information about the travel arrangements of a Hong Kong police soccer team, the South China Morning Post reported.

"As always our actions and responsibilities are focused on the safety and security of our operations," the airline said.

This weekend's protests come days after a general strike that disrupted the financial hub's morning rush hour, leaving traffic jammed, subway lines suspended and dozens of flights canceled. Those demonstrations, which also ended in tear gas and dispersal operations.

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