Hong Kong announces 336 arrests during Christmas protests

A protester reacts after police fire tear gas to disperse bystanders in a protest in Jordan district in Hong Kong, on early Dec 25, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong police arrested 336 people during the Christmas holiday as the city's protest movement continues to simmer, an official said on Friday (Dec 27).

Chief police spokesman Kwok Ka-chuen told reporters that those detained between Monday and Thursday included 92 women and minors as young as 12.

The arrests bring the number of people detained over the course of the protests to nearly 7,000, with a large proportion of student age.

Protesters, some donning Santa Claus hats, battled police over the holiday as the more than six-month-long demonstrations look set to continue into the new year.

Spokesman Kwok condemned what he called attacks on ordinary citizens at shopping centres and restaurants and vandalism of public infrastructure including subway stations, banks and the electrical grid.

"Their scheme is to silence those who hold dissenting views and to terrorise the public. Whoever disagrees with their violence will be met with violence," spokesman Kwok told reporters.

Black-clad protesters smashed shop windows in shopping areas, while police responded with tear gas and arrests.

The protests demanding greater democratic rights show no sign of dissipating following an overwhelming victory by anti-establishment candidates in elections for district representatives earlier this month.

The Christmas disruptions also raise concerns for the New Year holidays to follow and the longer Lunar New Year vacation in late January, a period that has led to violence and unrest in Hong Kong in the past.

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