Thousands of HK protesters defy police ban

Demonstrators react to a tear gas during a protest against the Yuen Long attacks in Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong, China July 27, 2019.Image copyright

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Police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the protesters

Thousands of protesters in Hong Kong have taken to the streets despite a police ban.

Demonstrators marched through Yuen Long, a northern town where pro-democracy protesters were attacked by armed masked men last week.

Protesters had accused the police of turning a blind eye, and colluding with the attackers – claims the police deny.

Police have fired tear gas at the protesters in an attempt to disperse them.

Hong Kong has seen seven weeks of protests, sparked by a row over a controversial extradition bill.

Saturday’s march had been banned by the police – a highly unusual move in the territory – as they said they feared there would be violence.

Despite this, several thousand protesters still converged in Yuen Long, chanting anti-police slogans.

Image copyright

Image caption

Protesters had marched through the streets of Yuen Long, a working-class district in the north

The rally is a response to last Sunday’s attack, where about 100 men in white T-shirts descended on Yuen Long’s metro station, beating protesters – as well as passersby and journalists – with wooden and metal sticks.

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Media captionA large group of masked men in white T-shirts stormed Yuen Long station

Forty-five people were injured in the attack, which was widely blamed on triad gang members.

Protesters said the police were slow to respond to emergency calls – and only appeared at the station after the attackers had left.

Police say their forces were stretched during another day of unrest, and said suggestions that they had colluded with criminal gangs was a “smear”.

Police say 12 people have so far been arrested over Sunday’s attack, including nine men with links to triads, reports say.

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Media captionOn Friday, demonstrators staged a protest at Hong Kong’s airport

Timeline of events 2019

3 April – Hong Kong government introduces amendments to the city’s extradition laws to the legislature that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

9 June – In the first of many huge protests against the changes, an estimated million people march to government headquarters.

12 June – Anti-extradition bill protesters block roads and try to storm government buildings – police fire tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds at protesters, in the worst violence the city has seen in decades.

15 June – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam indefinitely delays the bill in a dramatic reversal.

16 June – Despite this, an estimated two million people take to the streets demanding the complete withdrawal of the bill, an investigation into alleged police violence, and Carrie Lam’s resignation.

21 June – As anger grows towards police, protests blockade police headquarters for 15 hours. They now also want protesters that were arrested to be exonerated.

1 July – On the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from the UK to China, the Legislative Council (LegCo) building is stormed and broken into by protesters.

21 July– Protesters deface China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong. That same night mobs of men wearing white shirts attack protesters and commuters in Yuen Long station, near mainland China, in a new escalation of violence.

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