Hong Kong was on Sunday reeling from one of its worst clashes the morning after police fired tear gas and water cannon on pro-democracy protestors, Reuters reported. The demonstrators have planned to block travel routes to Hong Kong’s international airport.

The airport has closed one of its parking areas and advised passengers to use public transport. Three weeks ago, hundreds of flights were cancelled or suspended as protestors barred passengers from going through the security gates and swarmed the airport.

Protestors on Sunday threw petrol bombs, while the police fired rounds of tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets at them. The escalating clashes have plunged the city into its worst political crisis in decades.

Police arrested 40 people inside Prince Edward metro station on suspicion of obstructing officers, unlawful assembly and criminal damage, even as three stations were shut on Sunday.

“A large group of protestors participated in unlawful assembly in various districts since yesterday, despite police’s objection and warning,” police said in a statement. “The level of violence is rapidly escalating and their illegal acts have no regard to the laws of Hong Kong.”

Saturday’s protests came on the fifth anniversary of a decision by China to curtail democratic reforms and rule out universal suffrage in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997.

The protests

The protests had initially been organised to oppose a bill that would have allowed extraditions to China. They have now evolved into a backlash against the city’s government and its political masters in Beijing.

The government has refused to accept any of the protestors’ main demands, which include a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill besides an independent inquiry into the use of excessive police force against the demonstrators. They are also demanding the resignation of the city’s leader Carrie Lam.

Last month, Beijing had claimed that criminals and agitators were stirring violence, encouraged by foreign powers such as Britain and the United States.

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