High security as Hong Kong protesters march

Tens of thousands of people are marching in Hong Kong amid tight security, in the latest protest organised by pro-democracy groups.

Mass protests have been held for weeks, initially over an extradition deal with mainland China but now covering other issues on democracy in Hong Kong.

Protesters on Sunday have ignored the designated finish line, continuing on to China’s central government building.

Many protesters are now involved in a stand-off with police.

Riot police say a clearance operation will begin in the Central area of Hong Kong, which lies outside the designated route.

Earlier in the day, protesters threw eggs at the liaison office, China’s central government building. Images from outside the building show signs covered in graffiti. One of the slogans reads : “You taught us peaceful marches are useless.”

The latest rally was put on edge after a huge haul of explosives was found along with protest leaflets.

On Saturday, a counter-rally in support of the police and against protest violence drew tens of thousands.

Tear-gas, rubber bullets, the trashing of parliament by protesters and sporadic clashes have created the worst crisis in the territory’s recent history.

The Hong Kong government has since suspended trying to pursue the extradition bill.

The former British colony is part of China but run under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that guarantees it a level of autonomy. It has its own judiciary, and a legal system that is independent from mainland China.

It’s the seventh consecutive weekend of mass demonstrations and tens of thousands are marching at the traditional protest point on Hong Kong Island.

However, the route has been altered and is scheduled to stop at Wan Chai rather than Central, where the key government offices are located.

But pro-democracy legislator Claudia Mo told Reuters news agency: “I think many people will just march on towards Central.”

She said the police were “terribly worried” about possible violence around the government and legislative complexes and police headquarters.

Metal barriers traditionally used to channel or keep out protesters – which have been taken by some of them to create barricades – have now been replaced by water-filled versions around key buildings.

Some 4,000 police officers have been deployed.

Previous marches have largely been peaceful, but have sparked violence on the fringes. Last weekend’s protests left 28 people, including 13 police officers, injured. –BBC

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