Hong Kong University Siege Photos Show Police Storming Campus As Hundreds of Students Mount Desperate Defense

Hong Kong's Polytechnic University has become a pivotal battleground in the months-long confrontation between pro-democracy protesters and police, transformed into a chaotic battleground this weekend as officers laid siege to hundreds of students inside.

Riot police have cut the university off from the outside world, with as many as 800 pro-democracy students believed to still be trapped inside, according to The Guardian.

The large campus is located in the Kowloon area of the territory, facing downtown across Victoria Harbour. Students have been occupying the site since last week, ferrying in supplies, makeshift weapons and obstacles in preparation for police action.

Universities have become a focal point for resistance over the past five months. As the below infographic from Statista shows, the majority of protesters are under the age of 29 and have a college education.

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This infographic from Statista shows the demographics of the Hong Kong protesters. Statista

Officers made their move over the weekend, squeezing the area around the university as Chinese soldiers based at a nearby garrison looked on.

Some troops, wearing T-shirts and shorts, left their base on Saturday to help clear debris and roadblocks set up by protesters. The soldiers claimed to be volunteers, but their appearance marks the first verifiable deployment of People's Liberation Army personnel since the mass protests began in June.

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Police fired "non-lethal" rounds including rubber bullets, while barraging student lines with tear gas and water cannons. In response, activists threw bricks, petrol bombs and even fired arrows. The clashes were the most intense since the unrest began, with multiple injuries reported on both sides.

Officers pushed onto the campus early Monday morning, under constant harassment from demonstrators. Activists even set fire to the campus entry gate in a bid to slow their progress.

As of Monday afternoon local time hundreds of students remain trapped, with police blocking the major entry and exit points to the campus.

Those trying to escape have been driven back by barrages of tear gas canisters, despite assurance from the Polytechnic University president that they would be allowed to leave, The South China Morning Post said.

Police have called on all those remaining to lay down their weapons and leave peacefully, though it appears they are prepared to arrest anyone found on the premises.

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Journalists have been blocked from entering the campus, according to the Foreign Correspondents Club, amid multiple reports of reporters being targeted by police.

Elsewhere in the city, hundreds have been arrested at demonstrations voicing support for the trapped students.

The disruption is affecting all of Kowloon, with some train services canceled and many roads closed across the peninsula, Reuters reported. All schools were also closed as the confrontation stretched on.

Protesters also targeted the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, which is close to the Polytechnic University and links Hong Kong island to the Kowloon peninsula. Its roads were blocked by activists on Sunday and a bridge above the toll booths set on fire.

This article was updated to include an infographic.

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