Satellite photos show what appear to be armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles belonging to the paramilitary People’s Armed Police parked in a sport complex in Shenzhen, in what some have interpreted as a threat from Beijing to use increased force against pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The pictures collected on Monday by Maxar’s WorldView show 500 or more vehicles sitting on and around the soccer stadium at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre.

Mainland state media have said only that the Shenzhen exercises had been planned beforehand and were not directly related to the unrest in Hong Kong, although they came shortly after Beijing said the protests were beginning to show the “sprouts of terrorism”. (AP)