Hong Kong protesters shoot arrows, hurl petrol bombs in campus clash
Protesters shot arrows and lobbed petrol bombs at police on Nov. 17 as fresh violence erupted around a besieged Hong Kong university campus, with activists braced for a possible final police push to clear them after fiery clashes overnight.
Police countered with dyed jets of liquid from water cannon after several protesters were seen firing bows from rooftops at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University amid some of the most dramatic scenes in over five months of protests.
A police media liaison officer was hit in the leg by an arrow, police said in a statement. He remained conscious and was sent to hospital.
Huge fires had lit up the sky at the university in the heart of Kowloon district overnight as protesters hurled petrol bombs, some by catapult, and police fired volleys of tear gas to draw them onto the open podium of the red-brick campus.
After a few quiet hours as protesters slept on lawns and in the university library, police fired fresh rounds of teargas shortly after 10am. Activists threw petrol bombs in return, some igniting trees outside the campus.
Hours earlier, squads of Chinese soldiers dressed in shorts and T-shirts, some carrying red plastic buckets or brooms, emerged from their barracks in a rare public appearance to help residents clear debris blocking key roads.
As fresh violence erupted on Nov. 17, some soldiers in a base close to the university were seen monitoring developments with eye glasses, some dressed in riot gear with canisters on their chests.
Parts of the campus looked more like a fortress with barricades and black-clad protesters manning the ramparts with improvised weapons-like bricks, crates of fire bombs, and bows and arrows at the ready.
“We are not afraid,” said a year-three student Ah Long, who chose not to disclose his full name. “If we don’t persist, we will fail. So why not (go) all in,” he said.
The campus is the last of five universities to remain occupied, with activists using it as a base to continue to block the city’s central cross-harbour road tunnel.
The presence of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on the streets, even to help clean up, could stoke further controversy over Hong Kong’s autonomous status at a time many fear Beijing is tightening its grip on the city.
Hong Kong did not request assistance from the PLA and the military initiated the operation as a “voluntary community activity”, a spokesman for the city’s government said.