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Hong Kong police fire tear gas as protests resume despite withdrawal of bill
[HONG KONG] Hong Kong police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray on Friday to clear protesters outside a subway station on the densely populated Kowloon peninsula, the latest clash in 14 weeks of sometimes violent anti-government demonstrations.
Hundreds of protesters, many of them masked and dressed in black, took cover behind umbrellas and barricades made from street fencing. Some had broken through a metal grill to enter the station where they pulled down signs and daubed graffiti on the walls.
"We're angry at the police and angry at the government," said Justin, 23, dressed in black and wearing a hoodie. "Police was very brutal with us at this station. We cannot let them get away with it."
Hundreds had gathered outside Prince Edward station in Mong Kok, one of the world's most densely populated regions, where police had fired beanbag guns and used pepper spray to clear demonstrators this week.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced measures this week to try to restore order in the Chinese-ruled city, including the formal withdrawal of a bill that triggered the demonstrations. The law would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, despite the city having an independent judiciary dating back to British colonial rule.
But the demonstrations, which began in June, had long since morphed into a broader calls for more democracy and many protesters have pledged to fight on, calling Mrs Lam's concessions too little, too late.
"The four actions are aimed at putting one step forward in helping Hong Kong to get out of the dilemma," Mrs Lam told reporters during a trip to China's southern region of Guangxi. "We can't stop the violence immediately."
Apart from pulling the bill, she announced three other measures to help ease the crisis, including a dialogue with the people.
Demonstrations have at times paralysed parts of the city, a major Asian financial hub, amid running street battles between protesters and police who have responded with tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons. Violent arrests of protesters, many in metro stations, have drawn international attention.
The crowds were expected to swell into the night, as the city braces for weekend demonstrations aiming to disrupt transport links to the airport.
The protests have presented Chinese President Xi Jinping with his greatest popular challenge since he came to power in 2012.