Hong Kong protests 2019
© Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach; AFP / Anthony WALLACE
The ongoing turmoil in Hong Kong escalated on Saturday when protesters in the autonomous area of 7.4 million people threw Molotov cocktails and bricks at police, with law enforcement resorting to gas grenades and water cannon.

Numerous protesters, some clad in black fatigues and yellow helmets, thronged the streets of Hong Kong on Saturday, kick-starting the 13th consecutive weekend of anti-government unrest.

At one stage, a large police barrier protecting a government premises was set ablaze.

The situation grew more violent as demonstrators engaged in clashes with riot police, attacking them with a slew of petrol bombs on main roads.

Photos and videos showed rioters priming their Molotov cocktails before hurling them at approaching officers.

Police deployed gas grenades and blue dye from water cannons to disperse the rowdy crowds.

Sporadic clashes did not die down by Saturday evening, with protesters using homemade incendiary bombs to set fires at several locations. Simultaneously, several units of Hong Kong police teamed up to dismantle barricades erected by demonstrators at key road junctions.
hong kong protests 2019
© Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
The Saturday gathering had not been permitted by Hong Kong authorities and protesters defied a ban and flocked to the streets anyway.

They appeared to be well-prepared for confronting law enforcement as many of them were seen wearing protective goggles, gas masks and even carrying shields.
hong kong protests 2019
© Reuters/Danish Siddiqui
Demonstrators take cover during a protest in Hong Kong
Violent unrest has been occurring in the former British colony for over twelve weeks in a row, initially inspired by public outrage over a controversial bill allowing for the extradition of Hong Kong convicts to mainland China. The proposed legislation was dropped but the protest snowballed into a wider anti-government sentiment among citizens.

As the demonstrations grew larger, Beijing accused the US and other Western nations of backing the most vocal anti-government protesters, and of challenging Chinese rule over the territory.

Earlier on Saturday, the Chinese government lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) and the White House itself, who urged the release of "dissenters" who'd been arrested for confronting police.

The statements by the Americans "flagrantly interfered with Hong Kong affairs" and unmasked "the hypocrisy, hegemonic thinking, and prejudice of American politicians," Beijing declared.