Violence erupted at a university in Hong Kong this morning, following a standoff between police and some 200 protesters who barricaded themselves inside the campus.
Smoke billowed out of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Kowloon throughout last night and this morning, after pro-democracy demonstrators — who have occupied the university since last week — lit a fire at one of the entrances. This came after an attempt by police yesterday to clear protesters out of PolyU. Today, at dawn, riot police entered the university amid flames and explosions, and attempted to storm the campus where hundreds of protesters were still barricaded, The Guardian reported.
The fire at the PolyU entrance has since been largely extinguished. Professor Teng Jin-guang, the president of the university, claimed in a video statement that he had negotiated a temporary suspension of violence with the police, and urged protesters to “leave the campus in a peaceful manner."
In the past couple of hours, a number of protesters have attempted to leave the campus, but are reportedly being obstructed by police who are firing repeated rounds of tear gas at them. Some protesters are responding by throwing petrol bombs at the police and attempting to clear a path out of the university.
This morning’s events come after a series of violent clashes between demonstrators and police — including an armoured police vehicle being set ablaze by petrol bombs, police using a water cannon laced with pepper spray to assault protesters, and protesters using catapults to launch bricks and bows to fire arrows at police. One officer was shot in the leg with an arrow, according to the ABC. Police have indicated that they will respond with force — potentially involving the use of live ammunition — if these kinds of encounters continue.
Over the past week, PolyU has become the backdrop for some of the most dramatic scenes since the Hong Kong protests began more than five months ago.
VICE News reporter Laurel Chor, who is on the ground in Hong Kong, expressed uncertainty as to how things would unfold.
"I don't know how all this will end," she said. "More violence is sure to come. It's scary."