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Police chase Hong Kong Mother's Day protesters

Riot police chased protesters through Hong Kong shopping malls on Sunday as democracy activists launched Mother's Day flash mob rallies calling for independence and the city's leader to resign.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city was convulsed by seven straight months of often-violent pro-democracy protests last year with millions hitting the streets.

Mass arrests and the coronavirus pandemic ushered in a period of enforced calm.

But with the finance hub successfully tackling its outbreak small protests have bubbled up once more in the last fortnight.

Small flashmob demonstrations broke out in at least eight malls throughout Sunday afternoon prompting riot police to rush in and disperse heckling crowds of activists and shoppers.

At least three arrests were made while groups of officers conducted multiple stop and searches.

Live broadcasts also showed police issuing HK$2,000 ($260) on the spot fines to those allegedly breaching emergency anti-virus measures banning more than eight people gathering in public.

Hong Kong celebrates the American Mother's Day and protester chat groups had pushed the occasion to focus on chief executive Carrie Lam, a Beijing loyalist appointee.

At the start of last year's protests, Lam likened herself to an exasperated mother -- and protesting Hong Kongers to demanding children -- in comments that only poured oil on the fire of public anger at the time.

Authorities banned an application for a Mother's Day march so small groups of masked protesters instead played cat and mouse with police in different shopping centres, a tactic used frequently last year.