Children caught up in chaotic scenes as march turns violent
A March drawing tens of thousands of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong on New Year's Day spiralled into chaotic scenes as police fired tear gas and water cannon at crowds including families, before halting the event.
The violence broke out during the largely peaceful march as masses of citizens pressed authorities for further concessions in the Chinese-ruled city.
In the Wanchai bar district, some protesters had spray-painted graffiti and smashed cash machines in an HSBC bank branch when riot police moved in, pepper-spraying crowds in a tense face-off. Tear gas was fired into the crowds, making some children cry.
The atmosphere grew tense in several districts on Hong Kong island, as hundreds of protesters dug in, forming road blocks, setting fires and throwing a few petrol bombs.
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Protesters have directed their ire at global banking group HSBC alleging a link between the arrest of four members of a group that raised funds to support the protesters and an earlier closure of an HSBC account linked to the group. HSBC denies any connection.
A bronze lion at the bank's headquarters was daubed with paint and scorched by a fire. A bank spokesman said: "We strongly condemn the acts of vandalism and damage directed at our premises repeatedly in the last few days. We believe these are unjustified."
Thousands of revellers had earlier welcomed in 2020 along Victoria Harbour, chanting "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our Time".
China's President Xi Jinping said in a New Year's speech that Beijing will "resolutely safeguard the prosperity and stability" of Hong Kong.
Many in Hong Kong are angered by Beijing's tight grip on the city. Beijing denies interference and blames the West for fomenting the unrest.