Pitched battles raged on Hong Kong's university campuses for a second day yesterday as protesters faced off with police officers who fired numerous rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets, while others disrupted rush-hour traffic and public transport from early morning.
The day's biggest stand-offs took place on the grounds of Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), which has a long history of activism.
Shortly after dawn, protesters began building barricades and blocking roads around the hilltop campus.
The riot police showed up shortly after 7am and pitched battles continued throughout the day.
Protesters started fires with whatever they could get their hands on, including a football net, trees and foliage from the campus, and even a van. Large plumes of smoke from the fires could be seen from across the harbour at Ma On Shan.
As the police volleyed multiple rounds of tear gas in a bid to disperse the crowd, members of the black-clad group, many of whom wore respirators to help filter the irritant particles, lobbed Molotov cocktails in response. As night fell, the stand-off continued, with the crowd numbering close to a thousand at several points. In the evening, some even drove their cars to the campus in a show of support and to try to impede the police from advancing.
At 10pm, the police said they were retreating from the campus.
"In pursuit of a peaceful solution to defuse the situation, police have communicated with the school and are arranging a retreat to stop the stand-off. Police appeal to protesters to stop charging," the police said in a statement after some 15 hours of battle.
As the police retreated, they deployed water cannon, spraying water laced with blue dye into the crowd. The police said they had to fire the water cannon at CUHK as the protesters were attacking them as they retreated.
Across the city, similar scenes were repeated in areas such as Tseung Kwan O, Sha Tin and Sai Wan Ho, where protesters tossed bricks and other debris, including rubbish from roadside bins, onto roads.
At lunchtime, a flash mob sprang up in the heart of the Central financial district for the second day in a row as protesters in suits, skirts and high heels marched on the roads armed with umbrellas.
Some built barricades and tossed objects on the roads, including booby traps made of nails poked through rubber pipes. But the police showed up shortly after to disperse the crowd, causing stand-offs which lasted into the late afternoon.
Outside a mall in the upmarket Kowloon Tong district, protesters set fire to a Christmas tree.
Later in the day, demonstrators also returned to Mong Kok, a busy shopping district, where they disrupted traffic on the main thoroughfare of Nathan Road, littering it with obstacles, including bricks dug up from sidewalks. The area has been the scene of drawn-out clashes over the past three days, with protesters and the police playing a cat-and-mouse game into the small hours of the morning.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam yesterday morning condemned protesters' actions as "selfish", saying they were bringing inconvenience to the rest of the city, as she spoke to the media ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting.
As of 5pm, 18 people had been sent to hospital for injuries stemming from the protests, the Hospital Authority said in a statement.
Yesterday's events came a day after the police shot a protester with a live round, and a man was torched after disagreeing with demonstrators.
The protests, which started over a contentious extradition Bill in June, have evolved into calls for greater democracy and are a manifestation of the city's anger against the local government.
Ahead of local elections later this month, officials have repeatedly urged for calm, to little avail.