Thousands of anti-government protesters defied a court order yesterday, in order to "stress test" the Hong Kong International Airport's operations ahead of a planned two-day strike starting today.
Black-clad protesters choked travel routes to the airport despite a court order banning such actions and trashed Tung Chung station, with the next-door Citygate Outlets mall also not spared.
They smashed the glass panes at the station's customer service centre, ripped apart the station turnstiles and broke ticket machines.
They had earlier set up barricades at Sky City Interchange and Chek Lap Kok South Road with water-filled barriers, rubbish dumpsters and luggage trolleys, and hurled objects at officers and Airport Authority staff.
Long lines of vehicles were caught in the traffic jam with drivers standing by the road. Television footage showed many passengers stranded at the airport, while dozens of travellers and airline crew members walked on the road, with their luggage in tow, to either catch flights or get home after landing in the city.
Train services to the airport ran slowly before being suspended.
Earlier, a small number of protesters entered the Airport Express' Tsing Yi station to spray paint closed-circuit television cameras and vandalise card readers, broadcaster TVB reported, while a large group hurled iron poles, bricks and rocks onto the Airport Express train track near the Airport station.
Separately, other demonstrators assembled outside the British consulate to urge Britain to confirm that China has violated the Sino-British Joint Declaration by not granting democracy to Hong Kong, and for Britain to grant full citizenship to British National (Overseas) passport holders.
Number of people, aged 13 to 36, arrested at Prince Edward MTR station on Saturday night. The 13-year-old was found to have petrol bombs and lighters.
Yesterday's unrest came after police gave the green light for rallies to be held in Tamar Park in Admiralty today and tomorrow, but an application was rejected for a rally in Tsim Sha Tsui today that would have coincided with the strike.
Students across the different schools and universities have also voiced support for a class boycott today, in a sign that the unrest that has plagued Hong Kong for 13 consecutive weekends since June 9 might continue to simmer.
Yesterday's "stress test" comes a day after pitched street battles between police and masked protesters that spread to more than 10 districts on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, with water cannon and tear gas deployed to disperse the crowd. That same night, a policeman fired two live rounds as a warning after being attacked - the second such incident in a week - while other officers stormed a train carriage at Prince Edward MTR station, hitting people inside with batons and using pepper spray.
The police defended their actions, saying at a briefing yesterday that officers were responding to calls for help at the MTR station.
They said 63 people aged 13 to 36 were arrested at Prince Edward station on Saturday night for charges such as possession of weapons and illegal assembly. The 13-year-old was found to have petrol bombs and lighters, which officers described as very dangerous objects.
The anti-extradition protests that have now spanned five months have morphed into a broader movement seeking five goals - universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, the release of all who have been arrested so far, the removal of the label that the June 12 protest was a "riot" and the complete withdrawal of the highly divisive extradition Bill that has been suspended indefinitely.