Police fired volleys of tear gas and protesters hurled bricks during clashes in a rural Hong Kong town on Saturday as several thousand activists gathered to protest an attack by a suspected triad gang at a train station last weekend.
Activists pushed ahead with the march in Yuen Long, scene of the attack by club-wielding men, in spite of a refusal by police to allow the protest on safety grounds.
Rocks and bottles were thrown by protesters, who built barricades out of street furniture and umbrellas, creating multiple stand-offs.
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Yuen Long residents described a mounting police presence on Saturday morning, with force chiefs insisting they will still seek to keep order despite the ban. Extra fortifications had been placed around the local police station.
Ahead of the protest, activists told Reuters they fear the protest could turn violent, given feelings of palpable anger among protesters over last Sunday's events and a determination among some to challenge villagers they believe are close to long-standing triad groups in the area.
Last Sunday, 100 white-shirted men stormed the Yuen Long station in an attack that came hours after protesters marched through central Hong Kong and defaced China's Liaison Office - the leading symbol of Beijing's authority over the former British colony.
The men attacked black-clad protesters returning from Hong Kong island, passers-by, journalists and lawmakers with pipes and clubs, leaving 45 people injured. Reuters reported on Friday that a Liaison Office official had days earlier urged local village chiefs to drive away any activists from the town.