Hong Kong police arrested 11 more people in a second night of scuffles with demonstrators angry at having their 2-month-old pro-democracy protest camp in a volatile neighborhood shut down, officials said Thursday.
Police also said they arrested seven of their own officers for assault in connection with the Oct. 15 beating of a handcuffed protester during a violent nighttime clash.
None of the seven officers were identified. There was public anger when they were caught on camera apparently kicking and punching the protester in a dark corner of an underpass where hundreds of police were battling activists.
In a statement, police denied accusations that their failure to immediately arrest them meant they were delaying the case. Police said they were continuing to investigate and collect evidence.
The latest arrests of the activists followed an aggressive operation by authorities to clear out the protest camp on the busy streets of the crowded Mong Kok district, one of three protest zones around the city. Police already hold 148 people who have been detained since Tuesday, including high-profile student leaders Joshua Wong and Lester Shum.
Wong, 18, heads the Scholarism group, while Shum, 21, is second-in-command of the Hong Kong Federation of Students. The groups have played important roles in organizing the protest movement seeking free elections in the former British colony.
The protesters are demanding that Hong Kong’s government scrap a plan by China’s Communist leaders to use a panel of Beijing-friendly elites to screen candidates for the territory’s top leader in inaugural 2017 elections.
The clearance of the Mong Kok camp deals a blow to the movement, which has had little to show after two months of occupying Hong Kong streets although the arrests of the popular student leaders could also erode public support for authorities.