A police officer was struck by an arrow fired by a Hong Kong protester on Sunday and an armoured vehicle set ablaze, as fierce clashes raged into the night around a campus which has turned into a base for a pro-democracy movement whose protests have plunged the city into turmoil.
Protests have tremored through the global financial hub since June with many in the city of 7.5 million people venting fury at eroding freedoms under Chinese rule.
China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate the dissent, and there have been concerns that Beijing could send in troops to put an end to the unrest.
Chinese president Xi Jinping this week issued his most strident comments on the crisis, saying it threatened the ‘one country, two systems’ model under which Hong Kong has been ruled since the 1997 handover from Britain.
On Sunday activists dug in at Hong Kong Polytechnic University vowing to defend it from police and to maintain a blockade on the nearby Cross Harbour Tunnel, which has been closed for several days.
As dusk fell, police tried to retake a footbridge over the tunnel but were met by a barrage of petrol bombs that caused a huge fire.
Later an armoured vehicle edged towards protesters encamped on a flyover near the university, who met it with a flurry of petrol bombs setting the vehicle alight, according to live-streamed video of the incident shown by several local media.
The driver was forced to retreat and the fire was extinguished as protesters appeared resolute in their desire to turn the campus into a hub — a twist in tactics by a leaderless movement so far defined by its fluid, unpredictable nature.
‘We need a base to keep our gear and have some rest at night before another fight in the morning,’ said a 23-year-old PolyU student called Kason.
Earlier, activists parried attempts by police to break through into the PolyU campus, firing rocks from a homemade catapult from the university roof.
An AFP reporter saw a team of masked archers — several carrying sports bows — patrolling the campus.
Activists have vowed to wreak further havoc on Monday, in a follow-up to a week of chaos which left city streets strewn with debris and saw white-collar workers take to the streets in support of the frontline protesters.
Two people have died this month as the violence worsened, while the financial hub has been pushed into a recession by the turmoil.
Earlier on Sunday, dozens of pro-government supporters gathered to clear barricades near the university campus — a sign of the divisions slicing through the city.
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