Police and vendors clash in Hong Kong

Hong Kong clashes as police clear food stalls

  • 9 February 2016
  • From the section China
Hundreds of people behind a barricadeImage copyright AP
Image caption Several hundred people took part in the disturbances

Clashes have broken out in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong during a police operation to clear illegal food stalls.

The unrest erupted as food and hygiene inspectors tried to move the vendors away from a major junction in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Angry vendors threw bricks and other missiles at police, who responded with batons and pepper spray.

One senior official said police had fired two warning shots and that 44 people, including police, were injured.

Hong Kong’s government condemned the violence, saying the “mob” had numbered several hundred people.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The clashes broke out in the early hours of the morning

Image copyright AP
Image caption Protesters threw bricks in the clashes, which went on past dawn

“The mobs damaged police cars and public properties, committed acts of arson, threw bricks and other objects at injured police officers who were on the ground, seriously jeopardising the safety of police officers and other people at the site,” it said.

It promised those involved would be “apprehended and brought to justice”.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The protesters lit several fires in the streets

Image copyright AP
Image caption Police said they were enforcing laws against illegal hawking when the trouble began

Yau Siu-kei, the acting district commander for Mong Kok, blamed “radical elements” for what he said was a riot.

“Because many rioters were attacking police with hard objects and seriously threatened their lives, there was no choice but to protect colleagues,” the South China Morning Post quoted him as saying.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police said some officers were among the injured

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Members of the media were also hit with stones

In a statement, police said the vendors had ignored warnings to leave the area. Three men, aged 27 to 35, had been arrested for assaulting and obstructing officers, said the statement.

The clashes carried on into the morning, in the largest unrest in Hong Kong since the massive pro-democracy street protests in 2014.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police said protesters ignored warnings to leave the areas

Image copyright AP
Image caption A number of protesters were also injured and at least three arrested

Hong Kong is currently celebrating the Lunar New Year, which began on Monday and which the territory marks with three days of public holiday.

Street stalls selling souvenirs, food and drink are common in the area year-round, but particularly during the New Year, and it is not uncommon for some vendors to lack official permits.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption China has been marking the Lunar New Year with celebrations and outdoor markets

BBC News – World