A 70-year-old man died during the anti-government protests in Hong Kong on Thursday, hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an end to the violence in the city, CNN reported. The incident came less than a week after a student protestor who had fallen from a parking garage during demonstrations died.

According to a government statement, the man was on his lunch break from his job as a cleaner when he was struck by “hard objects hurled by masked rioters”. The unidentified elderly man died at the city’s Prince of Wales Hospital, a spokesperson confirmed.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department expressed profound sadness at the death of its cleaning worker, and said it was providing assistance to his family.

Speaking on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil on Thursday, Xi said the protests trampled the city’s rule of law and that “stopping the violence and restoring order” was Hong Kong’s most “urgent task”. China opposes any external forces to interfere with Hong Kong affairs, and its determination to implement the “one country, two systems” principle is unshakable, Xi added.

The president supported the police authorities and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam “in severely punishing the violent criminals in accordance with the law”.

The government also said Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, who was in London to promote Hong Kong as a dispute resolution and deal-making hub, was targeted by a group of protesters who shouted “murderer” and “shameful”. “The secretary immediately made a report to the London police and requested the police to take the case seriously and put the culprits to justice,” the government said.

“The secretary denounces all forms of violence and radicalism depriving others’ legitimate rights in the pretext of pursuing their political ideals, which would never be in the interest of Hong Kong and any civilised society,” it added.

The protests escalated in June over a now-scrapped extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial. They have since evolved into calls for greater democracy, among other demands.

The demonstrations have paralysed the city and affected the retail and tourism sectors, along with widespread disruptions across the financial centre and no end in sight to the violence and vandalism.

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