A small group of masked protesters clashed with police while trying to break into Hong Kong government headquarters in the early hours this morning.
The demonstrators attempted to ram their way through the glass doors of the Legislative Council building using steel barricades and hurling rocks.
Riot police faced off with protesters outside the building, first using red flags and then pepper spray to force them back. Four activists were later arrested. The break-in occurred through a side door.
Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, a legislator who attempted to stop the perpetrators, told reporters: "A couple of people jumped on me, and tried to grab me away, and that was it."
The clashes mark the escalation of a near two month-long and relatively peaceful occupation that has at times been marred by sporadic violence.
On Tuesday, police cleared a section of the protest camp in the Admiralty district. The clearance wasn't resisted and many students actually helped to remove tents and fences, the BBC reported.
Two other occupied sites remain intact — one at Mong Kok and another at Causeway Bay.
The demonstrators are protesting against a decision by Beijing to screen candidates before they are allowed run in the city's 2017 leadership election. Along with universal suffrage, the pro-democracy occupiers have also called for the resignation of Hong Kong's current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying.
Hong Kong currently operates under China's "one country, two systems" framework, and has remained relatively autonomous since Britain handed the financial hub back to mainland China in 1997. The proposed changes for the 2017 election have been interpreted by many as an indication that Beijing is tightening its hold.
The group that began the so-called "Umbrella Movement" are called Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP). Members said in a statement today that they "strongly condemned" the attack on government headquarters, and that those who initiated it had used false information to mislead the crowd who were present.
"The government has repeatedly acted in an unjust manner, and this will only provoke great anger from protesters. We urge participants of the Umbrella Movement to remember our original intention, to persist in non-violent resistance, to exercise calm judgment and not get drawn into similar confrontations," the group said on its Facebook page.
"This is to avoid weakening public support for the Umbrella Movement and give the government an excuse to use violence in clearing the occupied sites," the statement read.
OCLP also noted that "in cases of violent charging, the [movement's] legal support team would generally not provide assistance."
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