World

HK riot police chase down protesters

By AAP Newswire

Hong Kong riot police have been deployed to chase down a group of pro-democracy protesters they say were assembling illegally after the end of a sanctioned protest march.

The protesters had gathered outside a police station on Saturday evening, shining laser pointers and throwing eggs at officers guarding the entrance. Riot police formed a line on a nearby street, thumping their batons on their shields as they started marching.

But by that time, most protesters had already melted away into Hong Kong's densely populated Mong Kok district of Kowloon, leaving officers to face the anger of local residents, who yelled for them to go home and accused them of being members of crime gangs.

The protesters had taken part in an approved protest march earlier Saturday, but when it reached the finish they continued, cheered on by supporters honking their horns and raising their fists.

Hong Kong police have previously held similar operations in which they fired tear gas.

Dueling demonstrations on both sides of Hong Kong's famous harbour are highlighting the political divide in the semi autonomous Chinese territory.

Pro-democracy activists marched through a district in Kowloon on Saturday, while supporters of the Beijing-backed government rallied in a park on the Hong Kong Island side.

The democracy protests have raged continuously for 10 weeks, many ending in clashes with police as protesters barricade and take over streets and officers respond with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The protesters are demanding fully democratic elections and the resignation of the city's leader. They also accuse the police of using excessive force against them.

The pro-government side defends the police and blames the demonstrators for the violence in this summer's protests.

Earlier, school teachers marched to the official residence of the city leader.

Teachers said they want to show their support for the protesters, many of whom are students. They said the government should answer the protesters' demands and stop using what they called police violence to disperse demonstrators who take over streets and besiege and deface government buildings.

"We are here due to continuous violence by the government and police," said a secondary school teacher, who gave only his last name, Ko. "We feel we have the right to protect our students."

China's paramilitary People's Armed Police have been holding drills this week across the border in Shenzhen, fueling speculation they could be sent in to suppress the protests. Officers could be seen drilling inside a sports stadium on Saturday, and dozens of army-green trucks and other vehicles are parked in and outside the facility.

The Hong Kong police, however, have said they are capable of handling the protests.

"I can tell you we're confident the police have the capability to maintain law and order," Yeung Man-pun, commander of the Kowloon City district, said when asked Friday about the possibility of a deployment of mainland security forces.