UPDATE: Two Hong Kong student leaders banned from Mong Kok protest site

Two Hong Kong student leaders Joshua Wong (left) and Lester Shum were banned from a large area in Mong Kok as a condition of bail on Thursday after they were arrested during scuffles with police who cleared one of the largest protest sites
Two Hong Kong student leaders Joshua Wong (left) and Lester Shum were banned from a large area in Mong Kok as a condition of bail on Thursday after they were arrested during scuffles with police who cleared one of the largest protest sites that have choked the city for weeks. -- PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Two Hong Kong student leaders were banned from a large area in Mong Kok as a condition of bail on Thursday after they were arrested during scuffles with police who cleared one of the largest protest sites that have choked the city for weeks.

Joshua Wong, Lester Shum and activist lawmaker Leung Kwok Hung, who was also banned from Mong Kok, were charged with obstructing court bailiffs and did not enter a plea.

They are due to appear again in court on Jan 14.

Wong, Shum and Leung were among more than 100 people arrested in Mong Kok over the past two days. Wong's student group Scholarism confirmed the court ban. Shum and Leung received similar bail terms.

The protesters are demanding open nominations for the Chinese-controlled city's next chief executive nomination in 2017. Beijing said in August it would allow a vote, but only among pre-screened candidates.

Lined with banks, noodle shops and gritty tenements, the streets of Mong Kok have been a key battleground for protesters and mobs intent on disbanding them, and was viewed as the protest site most likely to resist clearance.

While the protesters regrouped and tried to storm back onto the roads, they ultimately failed to penetrate the mass of police armed with pepper spray and batons deployed to defend the major traffic intersections. Some protesters were hospitalised with head injuries from police batons.

The Mong Kok clearance was the second time in as many weeks that police, court bailiffs and workers moved to enforce court-ordered injunctions to clear the streets. The removal of the protesters' barricades, tents and furniture is a major blow to the pro-democracy movement.

The main protest site in Admiralty next to the city's chief executive office and barracks for China's People's Liberation Army remains largely intact. There is also a small protest site in the Causeway Bay shopping district.

As the students regroup, they may target government buildings, another student leader told local broadcaster RTHK.

"Further actions include a possibility of some escalations pointed at government-related buildings or some of the government-related departments," Hong Kong Federation of Students member Yvonne Leung said, adding that details would be released soon.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese Communist Party rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that gave it some autonomy from the mainland and an undated promise of universal suffrage.