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Hong Kong to shut all schools on Thursday for safety reasons

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Around 1,000 protesters blocked roads in the heart of the city's Central business district during the lunchtime rush hour.

[HONG KONG] All schools in Hong Kong will suspend classes on Thursday due to transportation and safety reasons, the Hong Kong Education Bureau said on Wednesday.

The bureau made the announcement in an statement, and urged protestors to stop all violent acts.

Hong Kong prepared for more clashes on Wednesday as anti-government protesters paralysed parts of the Asian financial hub for a third day, with some transport links, schools and many businesses closing after an escalation of violence.

Around 1,000 protesters blocked roads in the heart of the city's Central business district during the lunchtime rush hour. Wearing now-banned face masks and dressed in office wear, they marched and hurled bricks onto roads lined with some of the world's most expensive real estate and luxury flagship stores.

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Scores of riot police tried to disperse the crowds, grappling some people to the ground and beating others with batons near the city's stock exchange.

Protesters and police had battled through the night at university campuses only hours after a senior police officer said on Tuesday the Chinese-ruled city had been pushed to the "brink of a total breakdown". Many campuses remained tense.

Activists had blocked roads, torched several vehicles, hurled petrol bombs at a police station and smashed part of a major shopping mall in various districts the previous night.

The flare-ups came after police shot an unarmed protester at close range on Monday and police said "rioters" doused a man with petrol and set him on fire in some of the worst violence since protests began more than five months ago. Police are still investigating.

Protesters also planned demonstrations across the harbour from Central on the Kowloon peninsula and in the outlying New Territories, according to notices circulated on social media.

The disruptions caused delays for thousands of commuters who queued at metro stations across the city early on Wednesday after some railway services were suspended and roads closed.

REUTERS