Clashes between protesters and police mar Chinese New Year celebrations
Police fire warning shots, a police official confirms
There do not appear to be direct links between the disturbance and Hong Kong's Occupy protests in 2014
A government crackdown on illegal street food vendors turned violent in Hong Kong in the early hours of Tuesday morning, as riot police clashed with protesters in the shopping district of Mong Kok.
The disorder erupted following government officials’ attempts to evict street vendors who were selling fishballs and other local delicacies during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Traditionally, authorities have turned a blind eye to unlicensed food stalls during the festive period, but authorities took a stronger line against them this year, fencing off areas which had previously been used by the hawkers.
Dozens of protesters hurled bricks and bottles at police who responded with pepper spray and batons. Police also reportedly fired two warning shots during the clashes.
Responding to a reporter’s question about the shots fired, Hong Kong’s highest-ranking official, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying replied: “Everyone has seen what happened on TV… Police were lying on the ground and injured but people kept attacking.”