Scuffles broke out between the police and protesters near the Tuen Mun light rail station on Saturday after the demonstrators were accused of shining laser pointers at officers who were on standby.

Some of the protesters gathered near the station after completing a police-approved march from San Wo Lane Playground to the Tuen Mun government offices near Tuen Mun Park. They then shone laser pointers, damaged station facilities such as fire hoses and sprayed water at officers.

The police retaliated with pepper spray and fired several rounds of sponge bullets in an attempt to control the situation.

Some black-clad protesters also took down a national flag from a flag pole outside the Tuen Mun Town Hall and set it on fire. Firefighters arrived at the scene soon after to put out the flames.

The organiser of the protest, meanwhile, announced the ending of the march at around 4pm – an hour earlier than scheduled, in light of the chaotic scenes near the Tuen Mun MTR station.

Rally organiser Michael Mo said police deployed armed officers in an “unncessary manner”, forcing them to end the rally early.

“The fact that the police deployed anti-riot forces instead of uniformed officers to negotiate with us will only escalate tension between protesters and police. Such escalation is completely unnecessary,” he said.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the police said some radical protesters are “holding offensive weapons including metal rots, slingshots and laser guns”, adding that they had set fire on a national flag, damaged properties and set barricades.

Authorities have called on protesters to stop all illegal acts and leave immediately.