HONG KONG (AFP) - Police armed with bolt cutters, chainsaws and sledgehammers made a renewed attempt Tuesday to remove barricades along a stretch of the main protest site held by pro-democracy demonstrators for the past fortnight.
Around 100 officers charged down Queensway, a major thoroughfare running through the heart of the Asian financial hub, to tackle a string of barricades running across the road.
The barricades to the south of the main Admiralty protest site had been reinforced overnight with bamboo poles following a similar attempt by police Monday to remove protester cordons which were primarily constructed out of metal railings.
"Police have decided to take the next step in action to take away unlawful obstacles on the westbound lane and tram lines of Queensway," a police spokesman told reporters shortly before the operation started.
Officers used clippers to slice through the myriad of plastic ties that protesters had used to lash railings and bamboo poles together, and also removed protester tents, an AFP reporter said. Some protesters were seen sobbing. "We are only residents and students," one was heard shouting at police. "We will leave as we are unable to fight you but we will not give up."
Cable TV also showed police using chainsaws and circular saws to slice through bamboo poles.
Police told reporters that the operation was limited to removing barricades along Queensway to free up traffic.
They added protesters still had space to express their views on Harcourt Road, the major thoroughfare opposite the city's main legislative headquarters which has formed the epicentre of the ongoing protests.