Hong Kong protests: Clashes break out as hundreds of people storm demonstrators' barricades

Police forced to hold back angry crowds shouting ‘Open the road!’ while protesters claim triad members caused violence

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of people have attempted to storm the barricades of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong’s financial district, shouting “Open the road!” and “Occupy central is illegal,” as the protests entered into a third week.

Dozens of police officers attempted to hold people back by forming a human chain, while some from the angered crowds tried to take down the barricades erected by protesters to block off the main roads near Hong Kong’s main financial district.

Some taxi drivers rode their cabs up to the barricades and leaned heavily on their horns to demonstrate their frustration with the traffic disruptions caused by the protests over the past two weeks.

The pro-democracy protesters, made up of students and the Occupy Central group, have been occupying the streets of Hong Kong for over two weeks in the call for full democracy and full voting rights in the next leadership election.

One protester named Alex Kwok received a scratch on his arm after he was attacked by several men inside the protest zone. He claimed the men were members of triads, organised crime gangs known for controlling smuggling, prostitution and illegal gambling in the city.

Other protesters were heard shouting, “there are triads here” during the scuffles, and police were seen taking away some masked men from inside the protest zone, and the crowds later dispersed.

fore the police came, young men wearing masks and dark clothing came to pick fights with people and we heard that some of them had weapons," said Kevin Ng, a college student who was at the scene saw the scuffles. "I don't know who the young men wearing masks were. We suspect they're triad members but it's hard to say. What other kind of group would organize themselves to come attack us?" The clashes came just hours after police had removed barricades from some of the protest sites in an attempt to open up some of the roads, while reportedly leaving the protests camps themselves untouched.

Hong_kong.jpgThe police said in a statement that they were attempting to “reduce the chance of traffic incidents” rather than clear the protesters away.

Police are already investigating claims that 200 gangsters, believed to be from two major triads, had infiltrated the camps of pro-democracy protesters in Mong Kok a week ago, the South China Morning Post reported.

Police are planning on launching operations to target the triads, who were “well organised and came with a purpose,” Superintendant Dan Ng Wai-hon, of the organised crime triad bureau, told reporters.

“Police have been keeping a close watch on some senior triad members. Some have gone into hiding already,” he said.

The incident at Mong Kok on 3 and 4 October led to the arrest of 47 people, eight of which were found to have triad backgrounds, according to the newspaper.

Additional reporting by PA