HONG KONG • Tens of thousands of demonstrators fanned out across most of Hong Kong's main three regions yesterday to disrupt subways, air traffic and weekday activities in an effort to bring more attention to their demands.
Protesters descended on subway stations across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories during the morning rush hour, deliberately keeping doors open to stop trains from departing.
Demonstrators blocked key roads, including three tunnels, cutting major arteries linking Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula. Long lines of vehicles snaked across Hong Kong Island into the heart of the business centre.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people were stranded at the city's airport, where more than 200 flights were cancelled at one point. Many were under Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's flag carrier.
The airline did not give a reason for the cancellations, but its flight attendants' union confirmed some of its members had walked out.
Protesters later held simultaneous rallies in at least 10 locations and besieged multiple police stations, stretching the resources of a force that has become a lightning rod for public anger.
Many shops across the city were shuttered, including in an upmarket shopping mall in Sha Tin, where clothing retailer H&M as well as luxury brands Chanel and Dior were closed. Protesters in the shopping centre chanted: "Strike! Support to the end."
Many workers stayed home. But while some locals were angered by the disruptions, others said they supported the action. "As long as the government doesn't respond, then for sure the movement will escalate," a civil servant, who gave his surname as Leung, told Agence France-Presse.
Tear gas was fired in multiple places, with yesterday's clashes being the most widespread so far. Police also shot rubber bullets at the demonstrators.
The most sustained clashes occurred outside Parliament - where protesters used giant slingshots to launch bricks - and in the working-class district of Wong Tai Sin.
In the evening, a group of men armed with long sticks clashed with protesters in the eastern district of North Point, a neighbourhood where many Chinese migrants live. The men swung and threw their poles at the demonstrators, who threw traffic cones and barricades in return.
The sudden attack on the protesters was reminiscent of a train station assault in the town of Yuen Long last month, where 44 people were injured by men who beat commuters and protesters with wooden poles and steel rods. Separately, video footage circulating yesterday appeared to show a van breaking through a barricade that protesters had set up in Yuen Long, hitting at least one protester.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam yesterday condemned the increasingly confrontational actions of the protesters, saying their actions "will destroy the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong".
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, ASSOCIATED PRESS