The hillside campus of a top Hong Kong university was on edge on Wednesday after it was turned into a battlefield between masked student protesters and the police.
Once known for its tranquility, the site of the Chinese University of Hong Kong became a flashpoint on Tuesday as riot police officers and students fought over a bridge on the eastern edge of the campus.
Called the No 2 Bridge, the structure straddles the Tolo Highway, a major artery in the city's New Territories region.
Black-masked student protesters, huddled behind tables and other makeshift shields, clashed with riot police against the backdrop of swirling tear gas and the amber of raging fires. The resulting smoke could be seen from across the harbor.
Since Monday, protesters have been trying to take over the bridge in order to use it as a launching pad to block the highway below, as they joined calls to paralyze Hong Kong to press for their political demands, including electoral reforms and an investigation of alleged police abuse.
The students also sought to block the police from entering the campus through the bridge.
Clashes are expected to resume on Wednesday night after students successfully occupied the bridge, crippling the highway below, following a retreat by police on Tuesday evening.
As tension continues to build, classes for the rest of the semester were canceled.
If the experience on Tuesday was anything to go by, the coming clashes will be intense.
In a standoff that extended late into the night, riot police fired rubber bullets and enveloped the area in choking smoke.
The protesters threw flaming petrol bombs toward the police and set fire to makeshift barricades.
The police said three arrows were shot at the officers and, while they did not injure anyone, threatened the lives of officers.
Elsewhere in the city, protesters vandalized malls and disrupted public transport by blocking traffic, bringing wide swathes of the Asian financial capital to a halt.
The police have signaled a toughened approach to ending the protests, which began in June in opposition to an unpopular extradition bill.
Protesters in the former British colony feared that it would have eroded the political firewall between Beijing and the city, which was promised a high degree of autonomy and judicial independence when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
On Tuesday, Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong called on the city's government to use "every necessary measure" to end the unrest as soon as possible.
Beijing had previously thrown its weight behind the city's embattled leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, with President Xi Jinping publicly endorsing her leadership in early November.
The police said a total of 1,567 canisters of tear gas and 1,312 rounds of rubber bullets were used across Hong Kong on Tuesday.
More than 140 people were also arrested in connection with the citywide protests that day, a police spokesman told reporters on Wednesday.
As protesters continued carrying out wildcat strikes on major thoroughfares on Wednesday, the government canceled classes for all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools on Thursday.
Protesters at other colleges, including the Hong Kong Baptist University and the University of Hong Kong, have also blocked traffic and subway station exits.
On Wednesday afternoon, protesters at the Chinese University campus appeared to be digging in for the long haul and gearing up for a potential showdown with the police.
They used a closed canteen kitchen to cook for fellow students and ran a shuttle bus service to ferry themselves around.
Canteen in CUHK closed, so protesters use the kitchen and cooknfor everyone else. pic.twitter.com/EK8YfmeTKE
" Alvin L (@alvinllum) November 13, 2019
Elsewhere on campus, students assembled Molotov cocktails in groups and practiced throwing on a sports ground near the Bridge No 2.
Protesters are practising how to throw petrol bombs with plastic bottles in CUHK. #HKprotesters #HongKongProtester pic.twitter.com/9vC6JraQGP
" Lea Li (@Lealokkk) November 13, 2019
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