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Hong Kong’s tense face-off between police and protesters took a violent turn

By Lily Kuo

This post has been updated.

HONG KONG—Hundreds of protesters and police clashed outside of government offices into the early morning, as a stand-off between pro-democracy demonstrators and authorities stretched into its third week with little sign of resolution.

Police charged on protesters who had occupied a main traffic artery behind the central government’s offices, pepper spraying and wrestling some of them to the ground. This morning, officials said that a total of 45 people had been arrested. A video has circulated of what witnesses claim is a protester being beaten by police. Witnesses say journalists were also threatened with pepper spray.

Earlier, police had tried to prevent demonstrators from rushing onto a main road behind the central government offices after activists were called to help a student whom the activists believed was about to be arrested. Protesters, armed with umbrellas, goggles, and ponchos, converged onto Lung Wo Road, stopping traffic and swarming the police until they eventually left, ceding the road to them temporarily.

Hong Kong’s “umbrella” movement has quickly become a game of cat and mouse between protesters and the police, ever since demonstrators first took to the streets late last month to protest Beijing’s decision on how the semi-autonomous city will hold direct elections in 2017. By occupying Lung Wo, the demonstrators had reclaimed a key traffic artery between west and east Hong Kong that protesters had ceded to police last week. Yesterday, protesters lost a main road that demonstrators had occupied in central Hong Kong. Demonstrators had collected again in front of the office of Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung, demanding his resignation, but many retreated to the protest’s main site on Harcourt Road by the early morning.

Tensions are likely to continue as protesters impatient for results have been calling for an escalation in action. Meanwhile, local pro-government groups and critical residents have been demonstrating against protests. Leung has said he will not step down, and Chinese officials have repeatedly said their decision on how Hong Kong residents will elect their top official “is unshakeable” and have accused foreign governments of attempting to stir up a “color revolution” in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.