HONG KONG (dpa) – Masked protesters attacked Hong Kong’s legislative building early Wednesday, a day after police removed some barricades erected by demonstrators, as protest leaders distanced themselves from the incident.
“At about 1 am (1700 Tuesday GMT) some protesters attempted to force their way into the LegCo Complex and caused damage to various parts of the building,” police said.
The government said it “strongly condemns the violent acts by some violent radicals.”
Pro-democracy protest organizers Occupy Central also criticized those involved, saying they “did not care for the safety of occupiers.”
The protests as a whole were a “non-violent civil disobedience campaign,” it said.
The glass doors of the complex were broken as several dozen people charged the legislative compound and police used pepper spray and batons to contain them, witnesses said.
Four men aged 18-24 were arrested for criminal damage and assaulting a police officer.
Morning legislative sessions were cancelled. Chan Kin-man, one of the two founders of the Occupy Central movement, said occupation of the streets may not be the best way forward because public support was waning.
He spoke after the Chinese University released a poll on Sunday showing that 67 per cent of Hong Kong residents said they wanted the protests to end.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said Wednesday’s attempt to storm the LegCo building “will only be a blow against true universal suffrage umbrella movement, and will not bring any positive results.”
Protesters have been blocking three main thoroughfares of the city for nearly two months to demand reforms ahead of the 2017 general election.
The central government in Beijing has agreed to extend direct elections to all Hong Kong legislative seats but retained the right to pre-select candidates for the post of chief executive.
Hong Kong operates under a “one country, two systems” policy which grants freedoms to residents that are not given to Chinese citizens on the mainland.
It allows relative autonomy until 2047, as part of a joint agreement signed before the 1997 handover of the former British colony to Chinese rule.