World

HK police begin university campus clean up

HONG KONG: Police yesterday began clearing a Hong Kong university that was a flash point for clashes with anti-government demonstrators.

The move into the Polytechnic University came after its administration said it believed no one else remained inside after a two-day search ended on Wednesday.

Hours before the police operation, a masked protester came out from hiding and told reporters there were fewer than 20 others holed up inside.

"The remaining protesters never trust the police. It explains why for the past few days when the university management searches for us, we keep hiding," he said, identifying himself as Ah Bong.

The protester warned they'll "definitely protest" if police enter the campus.

The university has been ringed by police for 11 days as protesters retreated into the campus after blocking a major tunnel and setting toll booths on fire during clashes.

Some 1,100 protesters have left or have been arrested.

A senior police official, Mr Chow Yat Ming, said the focus of the operation is not to arrest any holdouts but on removing hazardous items that are a threat to public safety, and to gather evidence of "malicious" damage to campus facilities.

If they find any protesters, he said police mediators and counsellors will coax them to seek medical treatment.

Mr Chow said they will not be arrested but their details will be taken down.

"Our major concern today is not about arrest, it's about their well-being," he said.

Some 100 personnel, including hazmat teams and explosive disposal experts, fanned out across the vast campus.

Television footage showed officers searching buildings and removing bottles and other items. - AP

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