Riot police fired tear gas and baton-charged protesters in Hong Kong to disperse demonstrators who stormed parliament in a day of unprecedented chaos and political violence as the territory marked its China handover.
The financial hub has been rocked by three weeks of record-breaking demonstrations against a hugely unpopular bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.
Late Monday young, masked protesters wearing hard hats, managed to break into the legislature after clashes with riot police, ending two weeks of relative calm. They ransacked the building, daubing its walls with anti-government graffiti and prompting a police warning of an impending crackdown.
Security officers moved in from several directions, scattering protesters with tear gas and baton-charges, sending plumes of smoke drifting across the heart of the financial hub as fleeing demonstrators scattered, leaving open umbrellas on the city streets.
Earlier in the day huge crowds of peaceful democracy activists staged a march, calling for the city’s pro-Beijing leader to step down and reverse what they see as years of sliding freedoms. But the atmosphere deteriorated as a hardcore group of protesters stormed parliament after hours of siege.