Hong Kong protests: Tensions rise as police move rubber bullets near protesters

Police officers gather as protesters block the entrance to Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying offices in Hong Kong, Oct 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Police officers gather as protesters block the entrance to Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying offices in Hong Kong, Oct 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Pro-democracy protesters face policemen as they wait for Hong Kong chief executive outside the Legislative Counsel Office, on Oct 2, 2014, in Hong Kong. Tensions rose in Hong Kong after police were seen unloading boxes of rubber bullets and othe
Pro-democracy protesters face policemen as they wait for Hong Kong chief executive outside the Legislative Counsel Office, on Oct 2, 2014, in Hong Kong. Tensions rose in Hong Kong after police were seen unloading boxes of rubber bullets and other equipment to disperse crowds into government buildings. -- PHOTO: AFP
A pro-democracy protestor (2nd right) checks the inside of an ambulance to make sure the ambulance is not being used to carry hidden supplies for the police near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A pro-democracy protestor (2nd right) checks the inside of an ambulance to make sure the ambulance is not being used to carry hidden supplies for the police near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Traffic resumes after protestors briefly managed to block a road near the government offices in Hong Kong on Oct 2, 2014, as pro-democracy protesters remain gathered for the fifth day in a push for free elections of the city's leader. -- PHOTO: AFP
Traffic resumes after protestors briefly managed to block a road near the government offices in Hong Kong on Oct 2, 2014, as pro-democracy protesters remain gathered for the fifth day in a push for free elections of the city's leader. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pro-democracy protestors wear protective face masks and goggles they gather near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pro-democracy protestors wear protective face masks and goggles they gather near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Demonstrators remove barriers after a road was briefly blocked near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 2, 2014, as pro-democracy protesters remain gathered for the fifth day in a push for free elections of the city's leader. -- PHOTO: AF
Demonstrators remove barriers after a road was briefly blocked near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 2, 2014, as pro-democracy protesters remain gathered for the fifth day in a push for free elections of the city's leader. -- PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (AFP) - Tensions rose in Hong Kong after police were seen unloading boxes of rubber bullets and other equipment to disperse crowds outside government buildings.

Police had earlier carried long wooden boxes and metal barrels into the legislative headquarters, as angry protesters tried to block their path.

Pictures shared widely on social media and television showed one barrel with the words "Round, 38mm rubber baton multi" written on it.

Another barrel had the words "1.5 in, CS" emblazoned on it, a possible reference to CS gas, a form of tear gas.

The city authorities said on Thursday they wanted the streets cleared around the government headquarters with more than 3,000 civil servants expected to return to the headquarters after a two-day public holiday.

"The government and the police appeal to those who are gathering outside the police headquarters, CGO (central government offices) and CEO (Chief Executive's office) not to block the access there and to disperse peacefully as soon as possible," the government said in a statement.

Protesters have been occupying several streets and intersections in the city for five days in a push for free elections of the city's leader and are calling for current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down.

"If protesters surround government property... causing total blockage, seriously affecting public safety and public order... the police will not allow this violent act to happen," police spokesman Hui Chun-tak said.

The late afternoon resupply by police officers caused widespread alarm among protesters as their leaders issuing fresh calls for people to swell their ranks.

Andrew Shum, a member of protest group Occupy Central, said: "I'm worried that the police will use force to disperse the movement tonight. Everyone is discussing what they are going to do next."