Police stormed the campus after an all-night siege that included firing repeated barrages of tear gas and water cannons.

A protester is detained by riot police while attempting to leave the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) during clashes with police in Hong Kong, China November 18, 2019.
A protester is detained by riot police while attempting to leave the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) during clashes with police in Hong Kong, China November 18, 2019. (Reuters)

Hong Kong police broke through barricades on Monday to enter a university campus barricaded by protesters.

Police stormed the campus after an all-night siege that included firing repeated barrages of tear gas and water cannons.

Anti-government protesters barricaded themselves inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University for days, fighting back with gasoline bombs and bows and arrows. 

Police surrounded the area on Sunday night and began moving in after issuing an ultimatum for people to leave the area. The crowd wore raincoats and carried umbrellas to shield themselves.

Riot officers broke in before dawn as fires raged inside and outside the school.

Philip Owira reports.  

Earlier, police threatened to use live bullets if "rioters" used lethal weapons and committed other acts of violence, after the latest flare-up during five months of anti-Beijing protests in China's self-governing territory.

The police statement followed after one officer was hit in the leg by an arrow and another had his visor struck by a metal ball although he was not hurt.

In Monday's statement, police warned people who were described as rioters to stop using lethal weapons to attack officers and to halt other acts of violence, saying police would respond with force and possibly live bullets if necessary.

Demonstrators, angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in the former British colony, have said they are responding to excessive use of force by police.

Rubble is seen on the ground during clashes outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China, November 17, 2019.
Rubble is seen on the ground during clashes outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China, November 17, 2019. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s High Court has struck down a face mask ban aimed at protesters trying to hide their identity to avoid arrest.

A ruling issued Monday said that the ban infringes on fundamental rights more than is reasonably necessary for the furtherance of its goals.

The government used its emergency powers to impose the ban last month.

The violence, which has convulsed the Asian financial hub, has posed the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012. 

Xi has said he is confident Hong Kong's government can resolve the crisis.

A protester is assisted during clashes outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China, November 17, 2019.
A protester is assisted during clashes outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China, November 17, 2019. (Reuters)

PLA soldiers on streets

The presence of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on the streets, even to clean up, risks stoking controversy about Hong Kong's status as an autonomous area.

Protesters say the Communist Party is threatening freedoms guaranteed when Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Beijing denies interfering and has blamed foreign influences for the unrest.

Chinese troops have appeared on Hong Kong's streets only once since 1997, to help clear up after a typhoon last year.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies