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Cleaner (70) killed by flying brick as street clashes in Hong Kong grow more violent

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Tensions high: Police detain a demonstrator during a protest in the Central district of Hong Kong. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Tensions high: Police detain a demonstrator during a protest in the Central district of Hong Kong. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

Tensions high: Police detain a demonstrator during a protest in the Central district of Hong Kong. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

A 70-year-old man became the second person to die in a week of unrest in Hong Kong yesterday, after he was reportedly hit with a brick during a clash between pro-democracy protesters and pro-Beijing supporters.

The unnamed man was clearing bricks from the streets that had been thrown in protests during his lunch break from his job as a cleaner when he was caught up in a fresh outbreak of violence.

Protests in Hong Kong, now in their sixth month, have taken a more violent turn this week after the death of a student who fell from a car park during a police operation last Friday.

Last night, students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, one of three barricaded by pro-democracy demonstrators, sealed the exits to search for undercover police as they fortified barricades, setting the stage for another round of violent clashes.

Scores of students prepared for confrontation with riot police by stockpiling makeshift weapons including petrol bombs.

Pictures of suspected undercover police were passed around by students and on-the-spot searches carried out amid heightened paranoia that authorities were planning to break the campus sieges that began earlier this week.

The developments came as China's President Xi Jinping warned that protests threaten Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" principle governing the semi-autonomous city.

In rare comments on the violence, Mr Xi said "stopping violence and controlling chaos while restoring order is currently Hong Kong's most urgent task", in comments reported across Chinese state media.

Protesters calling for political reform and a change in leadership again paralysed Hong Kong yesterday, forcing schools to suspend classes, public transport to halt and shops to close.

Protesters at Hong Kong Polytechnic University were last night bedding down on the campus. In a canteen kitchen, young protesters were making omelettes as others organised the washing up.

"The atmosphere in the kitchen is happier, but outside in the front line it is different," said a protesters who identified himself as Mr Luk (40).

"These kids now, they are fighting for something that our generation used to have."

Police said the Chinese University, in the New Territories, had become a "weapons factory and an arsenal".

"Their acts are another step closer to terrorism," Chief Superintendent Tse Chun-chung said, referring to protests on all campuses.

He also said police would temporarily avoid directly clashing with "high-spirited rioters" to give themselves a breather and avoid injuries.

China's 'Global Times', owned by the state-run 'People's Daily', said on Twitter that the Hong Kong government was expected to announce a weekend curfew after some of the worst violence in decades in the former British colony.

It deleted the post after a short time. The Hong Kong government said the rumours were "totally unfounded".

Protesters have torched vehicles and buildings, hurled petrol bombs at police stations and trains, dropped debris from bridges on to traffic below and vandalised shopping malls and campuses, raising questions about how and when more than five months of unrest can be brought to an end.

Police said arrows were fired at officers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Several universities announced there would be no classes on campuses for the rest of the year. Baptist University, next to a People's Liberation Army base in Kowloon Tong, issued an "urgent appeal", telling students to stay away from campus.

Telegraph.co.uk