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Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong

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By Daniel Bellamy  with Reuters
Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong

Police firing tear gas and rubber bullets in Hong Kong have clashed with rock-throwing protesters in the rural district of Yuen Long.

Several thousand protested on Saturday after suspected Triad gang members beat up dozens of people at the train station in the district last weekend.

By nightfall, a hard core group of protesters was still facing off with the police.

Last weekend a group of protesters as well as passers-by, journalists and lawmakers were beaten up by men using pipes and clubs. 45 people had been injured.

The protests, considered the most direct challenge to the authority of China's President Xi Jinping on Hong Kong, bloomed on Friday as thousands of activists thronged the arrivals halls of Hong Kong international airport.

The protesters initially demanded the scrapping of a bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland courts for trial.

But now they're also seeking independent inquiries into police use of force, the resignation of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and full democratic reform.

Britain handed Hong Kong to China in 1997 amid guarantees that its core freedoms and autonomy, including the right to protest and an independent judiciary, would be protected under a "one country, two systems" formula.

Many fear those rights are under threat.