Hong Kong campus holdouts desperately seek escape routes

HONG KONG: Anti-government protesters holed up in a Hong Kong university were frantically searching for escape routes on Tuesday after more than two days of clashes with police and dramatic breakouts by rope and motorcycle.
About 100 protesters were trapped in the Polytechnic University a day after students, some tired and fearful of police storming the campus, tried again and again to flee, only to be beaten back by police firing rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas.
Some 280 injured were taken to hospital on Tuesday, the Hospital Authority said.
“I just want to leave. I feel very tired,” said Thomas, 20, a student at another university who has been on the campus since the siege began. “I didn’t throw Molotovs. I was here to support the protest. I don’t see anything wrong with it so I wanted to support the students.”
He then walked slowly, with about 10 others, towards the police who bodysearched and arrested him. He had the phone numbers of lawyers written on his right forearm. Police have made about 1,100 arrests in the past 24 hours on charges including rioting and possession of offensive weapons, they said. The total since June is more than 5,000.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she hoped the standoff could be resolved and she had told police to handle it humanely.
Lam spoke shortly after the Chinese-ruled city’s new police chief urged the support of all citizens to end more than five months of unrest.
Hundreds of them fled from the university or surrendered overnight and on Monday amid running battles on nearby streets where protesters threw petrol bombs and rocks at police.
Some made it out by rope and motorcycle. “Some rioters were seen escaping by abseiling off a footbridge to getaway vehicles below,” police said in a statement. “Our officers gave chase and were able to interrupt 37 of them including the drivers.”
About a dozen tried and failed to flee through the university’s sewers. A Reuters witness saw them lower themselves into a tunnel wearing gas masks and plastic sheets, but the tunnel was too narrow. — AFP