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Hundreds arrested in HK as police crack down

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Riot control police in Hong Kong fired pepper-ball rounds and arrested hundreds as they cracked down on protests against a bill being heard in the legislature banning insults to China’s national anthem on Wednesday.

Hundreds of protesters had gathered in several districts on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon to oppose the national anthem bill, which was being discussed in the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

More than 3,500 police officers were deployed to intercept people on the streets and check their ID cards and bags, while two water cannon vehicles were sent to guard the government headquarters in Admiralty and the central government’s Liaison Office in Sai Wan.

Several tow trucks were standing by to remove any vehicles that blocked roads. 

The latest unrest comes only days after China announced separate plans to impose a national security law on Hong Kong after large and at times violent pro-democracy demonstrations were held last year.

On Wednesday morning, some members of two pro-democracy groups – the League of Social Democrats and the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood – rallied outside the Admiralty Centre to protest against the national anthem bill and the national security law, but were immediately dispersed by police. 

Because it was difficult to get close to the Legislative Council building near Tamar Park in Admiralty, protesters gathered in Central and Causeway Bay instead. 

In Central, some office workers joined the protests during their lunch hour. Hundreds of people gathered on Pedder Street and chanted slogans, including “Disband the police immediately” and “Five demands not one less.”

Some protesters threw rubbish bins onto roads. The protesters were dispersed by police and warned they were taking part in an “illegal assembly.” Police intercepted a group of people near the IFC mall and World-Wide House and took some of them away in a coach.

Police fired pepper-ball rounds at protesters who were gathering near Wyndham Street, which left some people coughing due to the irritant.

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