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Trains to Hong Kong Airport Suspended after Violent Protests

On Sunday, several hundred protesters gathered at the airport on Chek Lap Kok island in the early afternoon and set up temporary barricades at a bus terminal.

Associated Press

Updated:September 1, 2019, 5:10 PM IST
Trains to Hong Kong Airport Suspended after Violent Protests
Travelers gather at the closed check-in counters as protesters stage a protest at the Hong Kong International Airport. (Image: AP)

Hong Kong: Train service to Hong Kong's airport was suspended Sunday as pro-democracy demonstrators gathered there, while protesters outside the British Consulate called on London to grant citizenship to people born in the former colony before its return to China.

Hong Kong has been the scene of increasingly tense anti-government protests for nearly three months. They began in response to a proposed extradition law and have expanded to include other grievances and demands for more democracy and the resignation of the territory's leader.

On Saturday, protesters threw gasoline bombs at government headquarters. Police stormed a subway car and hit passengers with clubs and pepper spray.

On Sunday, several hundred protesters gathered at the airport on Chek Lap Kok island in the early afternoon and set up temporary barricades at a bus terminal. A dozen blue-uniformed police officers in riot helmets formed a line across an entrance corridor to keep them out of the terminal.

The operator of the express train to the airport from downtown Hong Kong said service was suspended. MTR Corp. said trains into the city from the airport were still running.

Police issued a statement warning protesters were violating a court injunction against disrupting airport operations.

The protesters were mostly peaceful, but a government statement said some threw objects at police and airport employees. A separate statement said iron poles, bricks and rocks were thrown onto tracks of the airport train, "seriously obstructing" service.

Also Sunday, about 200 protesters outside the British Consulate in the city waved British flags and chanted "Equal rights now!" and "Stand with Hong Kong!" A saxophonist in dark glasses played "God Save the Queen," the British national anthem.

Many wanted London to grant citizenship to people born in Hong Kong before 1997. The British government refused that, instead giving people in the colony "British National Overseas" passports they could use to travel abroad but not settle in the United Kingdom.

"I hope the British government can change its nationality law," said a protester, Gary Law.

Police had denied permission for a march Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of a decision by China against fully democratic elections in Hong Kong, but protesters took to the streets anyway.

Two police officers fired two warning shots into the air "to protect their own safety" after being surrounded Saturday by protesters near Victoria Park, the government said. It was the second time police fired warning shots following an incident the previous weekend.

Protests erupted in early June in Hong Kong, whose 7.4 million people were promised a "high degree of autonomy" under an agreement between Beijing and London.

Opponents saw the proposed extradition bill as an erosion of that "one country, two systems" framework. It would have allowed crime suspects to be sent to the mainland, where the ruling Communist Party controls the court system.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended work on the law but protesters want it withdrawn completely. They also have called for Lam's resignation and democratic elections.

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