Hong Kong Police End Campus Siege After Finding 3,989 Petrol Bombs
(Bloomberg) — Police said they had lifted their blockade on Hong Kong Polytechnic University after officers cleared a campus that’s been besieged for nearly two weeks amid a violent standoff with demonstrators.
Chow Yat-ming, the city’s assistant police commissioner, said Friday morning that he believes PolyU could be handed back to university management after dangerous items that remain on campus were removed. Firemen and a police safety team did a final sweep of the campus in the morning after searching every level of each building to handle hazardous items and collect evidence the day before.
The police said they seized items including 3,989 petrol bombs, 1,339 explosive items and 601 bottles of corrosive liquids. Every floor on campus suffered various degrees of vandalism and damage, Chow said.
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PolyU urged the public not to enter the campus as it was still unsafe and will remain closed for repairs. But some people still walked around the school after police lifted their cordons, according to live television footage that also showed traffic had resumed in the area.
The protests gripping Hong Kong for the past five months have brought unprecedented battles to the city’s universities. Several saw extended sieges this month as demonstrators sought to paralyze parts of the city after anger flared over the Nov. 8 death of a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology student who had fallen near near an area where police were trying to disperse a protest
The 12-day siege of Kowloon’s PolyU and its surrounding roads were the site of clashes between riot police and students, and initially raised fears of a crackdown on scores of protesters trapped inside. Jarring images from the school showed fires, clouds of tear gas and flaming vehicles.
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The lockdown dragged on as police declared the situation a riot and remained waiting for protesters to leave on their own accord. People inside the campus meanwhile feared getting arrested for a rioting charge that carries a potential jail sentence of up to 10 years, or being treated unfairly by officers after their arrest. Some managed to escape.
PolyU President Teng Jin-Guang said Friday that the situation could serve as a lesson for Hong Kong on how to emerge from crisis.
“I hope that the way we’ve done it, by taking a peaceful approach, could be a lesson we could learn from,” he said. “We can have different political standings, views and perspectives, but we should be able to talk to each other peacefully, express our views, share our views, exchange our views rationally so that we can find the best solution for Hong Kong.”
Scores of protesters gathered in nearby Tsim Sha Tsui in support of the PolyU demonstrators late Thursday, while two other rallies were also held across the city, including one to thank Donald Trump and U.S. politicians for signing legislation expressing support for Hong Kong’s demonstrators.
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The police said they didn’t encounter any remaining protesters during their operations. In a statement, PolyU said that it also expects the cordon around campus to be removed by Friday after the government added manpower to expedite the disposal of hazardous materials that were widely scattered.
(Updates with PolyU president comment)
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