Hong Kong protesters disperse after blockading police headquarters

In this picture taken on June 21, 2019, protesters relax on a main road near the government headquarters in Hong Kong. (AFP)

Thousands of protesters who had blockaded police headquarters in Asia's leading financial center had mostly dispersed by Saturday morning with some roads reopened for traffic as normal but it remained unclear whether further mass protests would take place.

By daybreak, police had cleared the streets of barriers set up by protesters to snarl traffic in the Asian financial center, and only a few groups in the mostly youthful crowd remained. Many slept outside the legislature.

Traffic was again smooth on a major thoroughfare through the government's central complex as the protest movement regrouped to consider next moves.

Police said nine female and four male staffers were hospitalized "with considerable delay" during the blockade. The police statement did not say whether they were injured in clashes or had otherwise become unwell.

Hong Kong has been bracing for a third weekend of widespread protests against an extradition bill that has plunged the Chinese-ruled city into crisis, posing the greatest popular challenge to President Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012.

On Friday groups of mostly students wearing hard hats, goggles and face masks set up roadblocks and trapped vehicles in a generally peaceful protest to demand that leader Carrie Lam, who promoted and then postponed the bill, scrap it altogether.

Police removed barricades early on Saturday morning while staff were able to go home, after a more than 15 hour blockade.

In a statement early on Saturday, police said the acts of the protesters had seriously affected their work including the provision of emergency services to the public.

"Police have shown the greatest tolerance to the protesters...but their means of expressing views have become illegal, irrational and unreasonable. Police will stringently follow up on these illegal activities."

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, since when it has been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including a much-cherished independent judiciary.

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Last Update: 04:18 KSA 07:18 - GMT 04:18
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