HONG KONG, Kyodo - Continued anti-government protests in Hong Kong forced the local airport authority to cancel more than 230 flights to and from the island from Monday through early Tuesday.
Thousands of protesters angry with the government’s inaction over an extradition bill and police violence in past protests swarmed the airport starting around noon on Monday, hindering airport-bound traffic including bus and train services.
An extended sit-in taking place inside the airport’s lobby forced the airport authority to suspend check-in procedures and prompted many flight cancellations including those to and from Japan’s major airports -- Narita, Haneda and Kansai.
The demonstration follows a three-day peaceful sit-in at the airport’s arrivals hall to protest against the now-suspended extradition bill.
Hong Kong government officials condemned the protesters for forcing a shutdown at the airport and said it will resume operation only when flight safety and the safety of passengers and staff can be guaranteed.
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council again strongly condemned violent attacks at different police stations over the weekend, in particular the throwing of a petrol bomb that left an officer with burn injuries.
Millions of people have taken to the streets since June in protest against the controversial bill, which would allow fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with which the Hong Kong government has no extradition arrangements, including mainland China.
Facing widespread popular opposition, Chief Executive Carrie Lam moved to suspend the bill’s legislative process and later declared it “dead” in a bid to quell public anger. However, the protests have continued to draw large crowds.
Some of the protests have turned violent and resulted in clashes between police and protesters, with officers resorting to tear gas, rubber bullets and other projectiles, and crowds countering by throwing bricks, bamboo sticks and gasoline bombs.
So far, about 700 people have been arrested for offenses including rioting, unlawful assembly, assaulting police, possessing weapons and obstructing police duty, according to the police. (Kyodo)