Protests at the airport as Hong Kong is pushed deeper into turmoil

Tuesday 13th August 2019 15:30 BST

The airport reopened on Tuesday morning after Monday's shutdown - but with many flights cancelled.

However, protesters blocked passengers from getting to the security gate and check-in services were suspended again at 4.30pm.

Airport authorities said they did not expect inbound flights to be affected, although many services were already cancelled after Monday's disruption.

One protester told Sky News they were focusing on the airport because they believe riot police will not confront them there.

Activists also overwhelmed the airport on Monday, grounding flights in and out of Hong Kong.

The Chinese government has warned that, after two months of unrest, the situation is now showing "sprouts of terrorism".

Hong Kong's leader earlier warned the territory had been pushed into a "state of panic and chaos" and could enter "the abyss".

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Carrie Lam appealed for unity after another weekend of riot police battling protesters on the streets.

She told reporters: "I ask everybody again to put aside our differences and calm down, take a minute to look at our city, our home. Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?"

Riot police again fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the weekend - letting off rounds in an underground station and using "snatch squads" disguised as protesters to detain people.

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Sky's Stuart Ramsay, in Hong Kong, said police tactics appear to have hardened - a sign that China could be running out of patience after two months of protests.

Anger in the former British colony has grown over claims of police brutality, a planned extradition law and a call for more democracy.

Mrs Lam's voice cracked with emotion at one point as she spoke to reporters earlier on Tuesday.

"Hong Kong, as an open, free, very tolerant, economically stable city will see severe wounds... the recovery may take a long time," she said.

She also defended the police against claims they nearly caused a stampede when they fired tear gas in Tai Koo station, with children and elderly people reportedly gassed.

Ms Lam said they were having to make difficult "on the spot" judgements but had "very rigid and stringent guidelines" about how much force to use.

One woman - a paramedic - is in danger of losing sight in one eye after she was hit by a tear gas round at the weekend.

Protesters have thrown objects back at police during the street battles - with some injuries reported - and also attacked police stations.

Hong Kong's leader also repeatedly evaded a question on whether she has the power to withdraw the controversial extradition bill - or whether she must get Beijing's agreement.

Meanwhile, UN commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet has urged Hong Kong authorities to show restraint in dealing with the protesters.

In a statement, she said: "Officials can be seen firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury."

The planned extradition law was the catalyst for the protests because people fear it would be used to send dissidents to the mainland where they could be imprisoned without proper justice.

Mrs Lam has previously said the proposal is "dead", but it has not yet been officially withdrawn.

Protesters say she is too close to the Beijing government and want her to stand down so elections can be held to find a replacement.

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The demonstrators' demands have broadened over the past weeks to encompass a push for greater democracy and the protection of Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" model - a key principle of Britain handing the territory back to China in 1997.

Beijing's response to the crisis appears to be getting tougher.

A statement from the government department that deals with Hong Kong warned of "no leniency or mercy".

Pictures have also emerged showing armoured personnel carriers, believed to belong to the People's Armed Police, gathering for exercises across the border in Shenzhen.

China's army also has a garrison in Hong Kong and recently posted a video showing soldiers in mock battles with protesters. However, they have yet to be deployed on the streets.

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