Hong Kong protests: Pro-democracy leaders call off talks with government after violent scuffles

Beijing supporters have clashed with protesters in a busy shopping district

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The Independent Online

Pro-democracy protesters have called off talks with Hong Kong leaders after violent scuffles broke out away from the Central pro-democracy protest site, the BBC has reported.

On Friday, numbers dwindled at some protest sites in and around the Central financial district after protesters accepted talks with the territory’s leader over their demands for electoral reform.

However, about 1,000 Beijing supporters clashed with about 100 protesters in the commercial district of Mong Kok and police were forced to form a human chain and separate the two.

Opponents of the demonstrators began dismantling tents and ripping down banners, with many angry at the disruption protests are causing.

The unrest comes after Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told reporters just minutes before the ultimatum expired at midnight on Thursday that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam would meet students soon to discuss political reforms.

Mr Leung agreed to the talks but rejected demands from protesters that he resign, who had threatened to surround or occupy government buildings.

"We are all fed up and our lives are affected," teacher Victor Ma told the Associated Press. "You don't hold Hong Kong citizens hostage because it's not going to work. That's why the crowd is very angry here."

A statement by the three main protest groups warned earlier: "If the government does not immediately prevent the organised attacks on supporters of the Occupy movement, the students will call off dialogue on political reform with the government."

"The behaviour of these protesters is illegal, extremely unreasonable and inhumane, and is even worse than that of radical social activists and almost complete anarchy," the Hong Kong government said in a statement, adding that people gathering in Mong Kok should leave.

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Six-day demonstrations have been pushing for the Chinese government to reverse its recent decision requiring a mostly pro-Beijing panel screen all candidates for Hong Kong's first election to choose the territory's leader in 2017.

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A pro-democracy demonstrator sleeps on the road outside the Government Complex in Hong Kong on October 2

But a front-page editorial in Friday's edition of the People's Daily newspaper, published by China's ruling Communist Party, underlined the leadership's unwillingness to negotiate changes to its August decision.

Additional reporting by agencies

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