Scuffles have broken out between police and protesters in Hong Kong for yet another day, as unrest continues over a proposed extradition bill.
The violence took place on Thursday, a day after police used pepper spray and water cannon to push back protesters near the entrance of the Legislative Council, where the bill was originally due to be debated.
The clash on Wednesday was one of the worst bouts of violence in Hong Kong since Britain handed it back to Chinese rule in 1997, with 72 people admitted to hospital, according to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority.
Security remained tight into Thursday, with scores of uniformed police with helmets and shields blocking overhead walkways, while a row of police vans were stationed nearby. Plainclothes police officers checked commuters’ identity papers.
Some protesters tried to stop police from removing supplies of face masks and food, and thousands of protesters were ready for more potential clashes with police.
“We are ready to have a protracted war with the government,” said one protester.
Authorities shut government offices in the financial district for the rest of the week.
The legislature remained closed. On Wednesday, it had to delay a session meant to debate the extradition bill as the protesters blocked the streets heading to the building.
The extradition law, if approved, would allow Hong Kong to send suspects to other jurisdictions around the world, including to China and Taiwan.
The protesters, who have vowed to block the changes, consider the move a threat to the city’s autonomy.
Hong Kong, which has a separate legal system from mainland China, enjoys a degree of autonomy under a 50-year deal between China and Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler, Britain.
The changes, which according to the government would only apply to fugitives accused of serious crimes, have support among local organizations. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has so far rejected calls to withdraw the plan. A final vote is expected on June 20.