Large areas of Hong Kong Island from Admiralty to Causeway Bay again turned to a battleground on Sunday, with anti-government demonstrators setting fires out on the streets and throwing molotov cocktails at police inside the Wan Chai MTR station, while police again brought out their water cannons and fired tear gas in some of the city’s busiest areas.

The MTR has closed the Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations, and warned that services to other stations may be halted at any time without prior notice.

The clashes started early – with riot police unleashing the first volleys of tear gas in the heart of Causeway Bay near the Sogo department store before 2.30pm as protesters gathered to launch an unauthorised “anti-totalitarian” march meant to be held in solidarity with rallies across the globe.

The unusually early action caught even some police unprepared – some officers were spotted struggling to put on their gas masks even as clouds of smoke billowed around them.

The protesters were pushed back, and marched towards Admiralty – where they regrouped outside the government headquarters, throwing bricks and molotov cocktails towards police.

The force responded with even more tear gas, backed up by their water-cannon-equipped anti-riot vehicle, which sprayed protesters near government headquarters at Tamar.

Elite officers from the so-called ‘raptor squad’ also launched quick strikes against protesters. RTHK reporters at the scene reported seeing around two dozen people subdued and arrested in Admiralty. Many of the detainees were forced to the ground with baton strikes by officers. Some were seen to be bleeding heavily.

As in past demonstrations, protesters pulled back towards Wan Chai once police moved in on their positions in Admiralty. Even as they retreated, they set up makeshift barricades on the road and set them on fire.

Reports from the scene also said undercover police – wearing the black garb typical of protesters – were seen in Wan Chai, retreating in to the MTR station with the help of uniformed officers.

Some of the protesters hurled petrol bombs at officers who were huddled up inside the station. The officers responded with shots from their long guns.

One officer’s foot caught on fire after he tried unsuccessfully to stamp out a burning molotov cocktail. A colleague finished the job using a fire extinguisher.

Protesters also hurled bricks at an exit below a footbridge, breaking glass panels.

Even as firefighters and police put out the fires, new ones were set – and the water cannon vehicle was deployed once again – this time to help douse the blazes.

Last updated: 2019-09-29 HKT 19:53