Students trapped inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University as police block exits

Protesters in Hong Kong are trapped inside a university by police blocking exits after more than two days of clashes, abseil escapes and more than 1,000 arrests.

About 100 protesters were trying on Tuesday to search for escape routes at the Polytechnic University a day after others managed to leave the besieged campus through a fire of police rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas.

Early on Tuesday morning the remaining students, many tired, injured and running out of food, were preparing for police to enter the university's buildings for the first time after they threatened to clear them out.

But officers instead blocked all exits, trapping students inside with no indication of allowing them out.

As protesters managed to escape ahead of Tuesday morning, about 1,100 were arrested in and around the campus in 24 hours on charges including rioting and possession of offensive weapons.

The Hospital Authority said 235 were injured and taken to hospital during Monday night's battle.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said 600 people had left the campus, including 200 who were under 18 years old - with some as young as 12 years old.

"We will use whatever means to continue to persuade and arrange for these remaining protesters to leave the campus as soon as possible so that this whole operation could end in a peaceful manner," she said.

She stated that any people under 18 that leave will be able to go home but that their personal data will be recorded first.

Those inside have been attempting to escape without crossing paths with the police, who have been arresting those who have been leaving.

Some protesters went so far as to abseil down from a bridge outside as the building has been bombarded by tear gas and rubber bullets, while about a dozen tried to slip out through a sewage pipe but failed when it was too narrow.

A police spokesman said: "Our officers gave chase and were able to interrupt 37 of them, including the drivers."

Activists fired arrows and catapulted petrol bombs towards the officers.

A 22-year-old student who gave his name as Marcus said: "I feel I'm in trouble. We keep trying to think how to escape, but every time we pick a spot we see many police nearby.

"But if we give up, we're finished."

In the campus' central square, a giant "SOS" was spelled out in pink, blue and yellow towels.

The UK government remains "seriously concerned" about events in Hong Kong and urges for "calm and restraint", according to a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Hong Kong has been rocked by five months of protest, with the situation intensifying as police warned this week they will use live bullets if protesters remained at the campus.

The violence seen over the past few days has been among the worst in six months of demonstrations, with 38 people injured on Sunday alone, the hospital authority said.

On Monday, Hong Kong's high court struck down a face mask ban aimed at protesters trying to hide their identity to avoid arrest.

The court said that the ban infringes on fundamental rights.

The government used its emergency powers to impose the ban last month.

The court said it did not consider anti-mask laws unconstitutional in general, but in this case, the law infringed on fundamental rights further than was reasonably necessary.

China stepped in and said the Hong Kong court had no power to rule on the constitutionality of city legislation - but The Hong Kong Bar Association, representing barristers, said the comments undermined "the high degree of autonomy granted to hong Kong under the Basic Law".

The Hong Kong protests were sparked by proposed legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

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The bill has been withdrawn, but the protests have spread into a wider resistance movement against Beijing's perceived growing control, along with calls for universal suffrage for the territory, withdrawal of the word "riot" in relation to protests, an inquiry into police behaviour and the release of arrested protesters and for charges against them to be dropped.