Hong Kong airport: Flights resume after violent protests

Hong Kong International Airport resumed partial operations on Wednesday morning after clashes between pro-democracy protesters and riot police shut down the Asian travel hub for two days.

Hundreds of flights were reported rescheduled and check-in counters were opened to hundreds of travelers who had waited overnight for their flights.

According to the South China Morning Post, there were around 50 protesters who had spent the night at the airport and remained in the terminal Wednesday morning.

The Airport Authority of Hong Kong issued a statement Wednesday saying that it had obtained an interim injunction "to restrain persons from unlawfully and willfully obstructing or interfering with the proper use" of the airport. The statement also said that protests and demonstrations were banned in any area of the airport not permitted by authorities.

Hong Kong has been reeling under protests that began 10 weeks ago in opposition to a bill that would allow the territory to extradite people facing criminal charges to mainland China. But the movement has expanded to include wider calls for democracy.

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Blockages and clashes

Scuffles broke out Tuesday evening between demonstrators and police outside the airport after some protesters blocked several police vehicles. Officers with shields pushed back protesters near one of the airport entrances and used pepper spray to break up the crowd.

Violent scenes of crowds fighting with police and attacking bystanders drew condemnation from police. Protesters have said the police are using excessive force, such as firing rubber bullets and tear gas.

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Hundreds of flights had been canceled or suspended at the airport on Monday and Tuesday after protesters staged a sit-in in the main hall of the airport, using luggage trolleys to stop passengers from passing through security gates.

Some travelers were blocked by a protesters and kept from exiting the airport after their flights had been cancelled.

Long-term consequences?

Hong Kong's Airport Authority said operations at the airport, which is one of the busiest in the world, had been "seriously disrupted" by the demonstrations.

Tourism agencies in Hong Kong have also reported a drop in bookings and the city's authorities earlier this week warned of economic consequences if the demonstrations continue.

Read more: Hong Kong pro-democracy movement: A timeline

On Tuesday, the UN human rights commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, urged Hong Kong authorities to exercise restraint and said their would need to be "prompt investigations into the use of force by law enforcement."

Hong Kong's embattled chief executive, Carrie Lam, gave an emotional press conference Tuesday morning, asking for the violence to stop.

"Take a minute to think, look at our city, our home, do you all really want to see it pushed into an abyss?" Lam said.

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wmr/se (Reuters, dpa, AFP)