Hong Kong protesters fend off police with arrows, petrol bombs as unrest spreads

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Hong Kong protesters shot arrows and hurled petrol bombs from a barricaded university on Sunday at police who fired tear gas and water cannon in some of the worst violence in the Chinese-ruled city since anti-government unrest erupted five months ago.

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Several protesters took up positions on the rooftops of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, armed with bows and arrows, as unrest spread across the territory's central Kowloon district.

Police said a media liaison officer was treated in hospital after being hit by an arrow in the leg and another officer's visor was struck by a metal ball although he was not hurt.

Protesters, who were sprayed with the blue liquid from water cannon, stripped off and hosed each other down to wash it off.

Police fired tear gas to try to break up protests on Nathan Road, a major thoroughfare in Kowloon's Mong Kok district, which was strewn with loose bricks, and in Yau Ma Tei district, where successive volleys of gas canisters temporarily cleared the streets. Clashes intensified during the night.

Hundreds of protesters ripping up paving stones at a fierce pace and spreading them on the ground at the junction of Nathan and Jordan. Lots of trashing of street signs and traffic lights too. pic.twitter.com/R2coTgRgxK

— Oliver Farry (@ofarry) November 17, 2019

"Rioters continue to launch hard objects and petrol bombs with large catapults at police officers," police said in a statement. "Police warn that the violent activities in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have escalated to rioting."

Chinese soldiers in a base close to the university were seen monitoring developments with binoculars, some dressed in riot gear with canisters on their chests, Reuters witnesses reported.

Chinese troops in shorts and T-shirts, some carrying red plastic buckets or brooms, had emerged from their barracks on Saturday in a rare public appearance to help clean up debris.

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 are angry at perceived Communist Party meddling in the territory, whose freedoms were guaranteed when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Beijing denies interfering and has blamed foreign influences for the unrest.

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