HONG KONG — Protesters clashed with police in riot gear and armed with pepper spray in Hong Kong’s main airport terminal on Tuesday, leaving at least one person injured.

Video showed officers attempting to clear out the crowd at Hong Kong International Airport as the protesters chanted. Not long after the intense altercation began, most of the protesters had left the airport and police had pulled back.

Several demonstrators were arrested during the violent confrontation. The Hong Police Force said in a tweet that at least one person was injured and required immediate medical attention but protesters were blocking ambulance access.

Medics remove an injured man who anti-government protesters said was an undercover policeman at the airport in Hong Kong on Aug. 13, 2019.Thomas Peter / Reuters

Video from inside the terminal showed a large crowd gathered around someone who appeared to have been injured. A video posted on Twitter showed an officer drawing his pistol and pointing it at the crowd after he appeared to have been beaten with a baton.

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a news briefing via her spokesperson that she “condemns any form of violence or destruction of property” and urged protesters and police to “engage in an open and inclusive dialogue aimed at resolving all issues peacefully.”

Demonstrators have been in the departure hall of the airport for the past several days. Tuesday’s incident was the first time police had moved in on protesters to clear the terminal.

Saturday and Sunday were particularly violent in the city as Hong Kong authorities shot tear gas and fired bean-bag rounds into crowds of protesters who had gathered at underground train stations. Scours of demonstrators were arrested, sometimes after being beaten with batons and left bloodied by authorities.

Police officers have also reported injuries, including burns from Molotov cocktails, bruises and eye irritation from laser pointers.

Bachelet, in her press briefing, called on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to investigate the incidents.

Protesters have been in the streets for months now, after initially opposing a bill to create an extradition treaty with the neighboring People’s Republic of China. Critics of the bill said Hong Kong residents, who enjoy freedom and liberties not available to their neighbors in China, could be swept up in that nation’s murky judicial system.

Even after the bill was removed from consideration by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, protesters have not relented. They’ve called for Lam’s resignation and greater democratic freedoms.

The Chinese central government said in a statement Tuesday that it “firmly supports” Lam.

Earlier Tuesday, the airport announced that all check-in services for departing flights would be shut down. Check-in services were also suspended Monday.

Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters at the Hong Kong international airport on Aug. 13, 2019.Thomas Peter / Reuters

“Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today,” the airport announced in a statement sent to reporters on Tuesday.

All check-in services for departure flights have been suspended since 4:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. ET), the airport authority added, advising people not to come to the airport.

President Donald Trump called the protests in Hong Kong a “very tough situation” and he “hopes it works out for everybody.”

The former British colony was handed back to mainland China in 1997, under the so-called one country, two systems framework that would allow Hong Kong residents to retain civil liberties for at least 50 years.

But Hong Kong residents do not directly elect their chief executive and they’ve been increasingly frustrated with Beijing’s opposition to full suffrage.

Paul Goldman reported from Hong Kong, and Minyvonne Burke from New York.

David K. Li contributed.

source: nbcnews.com


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