Pro-democracy protesters paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for a fourth day on Nov. 14, forcing schools to close and blocking highways as students built barricades and stockpiled makeshift weapons, setting the stage for campus showdowns.
Hundreds of protesters also occupied roads in the city’s business district, home to some of the world’s most expensive real estate, in the middle of the day.
Across the harbor, black-clad protesters and university students maintained their blockades of major roads, including the entrance to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel that links Hong Kong island to the Kowloon area, and a highway between Kowloon and the rural New Territories.
Police fired tear gas near the tunnel early in the day to try to clear the protesters. Roads were strewn with bricks and other debris, leading to widespread traffic jams.
Dozens of riot police gathered outside several universities earlier as students fortified their positions with metal poles, bricks and chairs.
At the Polytechnic University, near the Kowloon entrance of the Cross Harbour tunnel, hundreds of students wearing gas masks readied for confrontation.
Boxes of petrol bombs were placed at vantage points overlooking roads, including the tunnel, which has been blocked since the evening of Nov. 13.
Students also poured liters of cooking oil across the ground in an attempt to thwart police should they try to enter.
Violence has escalated in recent days, with police shooting and wounding one protester at close range and one man described as a “rioter” dousing a man with petrol before setting him on fire.
The man who was shot was in stable condition in hospital. The man who was lit on fire suffered burns to his torso and head, and was in critical condition.
China’s Global Times tabloid, owned by the state-run People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, briefly said on Twitter that the Hong Kong government was expected to announce a weekend curfew.
It deleted the post after a short time. Its editor said there was “not sufficient” information to back it up.
The demonstrations were initially spurred by what many residents see as the stifling by Beijing of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Anger grew about what many see as police brutality as the protests intensified.
China has blamed Western countries, including Britain and the United States, for stirring up trouble.