Riot police with batons and pepper spray charged protesters outside the terminal after days of extreme tension. One video showed a police officer drawing a gun.
HONG KONG — Pro-democracy protesters and riot police clashed at Hong Kong’s airport on the fifth day that demonstrators have occupied one of the world’s busiest transport hubs.
Riot police moved in after protesters attacked a car with police in it just outside the terminal.
A video tweeted by a Wall Street Journal journalist showed a police officer drawing his gun after having his baton taken from him by protesters.
Pro-democracy protesters inside the airport took matters into their own hands Tuesday by detaining men they suspected of being undercover police officers working for Hong Kong authorities.
Shortly before midnight local time, uniformed police officers — not wearing riot gear — and paramedics entered the terminal in order to remove the supposed undercover police officers from the airport in order to treat them.
But protesters tried to prevent the men from being removed, leading to clashes that saw demonstrators attack a police car outside the terminal. It was at this point that riot police arrived and charged at protesters.
Photos from inside the terminal showed a man tied to luggage, and protesters going through his possessions that they said showed he was involved with the police. The editor of the Global Times, a Chinese state-run tabloid newspaper, said the man was not an undercover police officer, but a reporter.
Mass protests have been taking place in Hong Kong for 10 weeks. They began in opposition over a controversial extradition bill but have morphed into a huge movement demanding greater democratic freedoms and protection from mainland China.
While the protests were initially peaceful, violent clashes between protesters and police have become a regular feature of daily life in Hong Kong, with police deploying tear gas inside metro stations and accused of firing beanbag rounds at protesters at close range.
Protesters have been occupying terminals in Hong Kong International Airport since Friday, prompting the airport to cancel all outbound flights Monday. More flights were canceled Tuesday, but passengers were still arriving at the airport even as the chaotic scenes unfolded.