UPDATE 5-Fresh clashes in Hong Kong as pro-democracy activists regroup
(Recasts with more clashes)
By Clare Baldwin and James Pomfret
HONG KONG Oct 17 (Reuters) - Hong Kong riot police used pepper spray and baton charged crowds of pro-democracy protesters on Friday evening as tension escalated after a pre-dawn clearance of a major protest zone in the Chinese-controlled financial hub.
Crowds of protesters headed to the gritty and congested Mong Kok district after work and school on Friday evening, across the harbour from the heart of the civil disobedience movement near government headquarters, to try to reclaim sections of an intersection that police had cleared in a surprise raid early on Friday.
Hundreds of protesters tried to break through police lines and they used open umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray. In the melee, police used batons and scuffled violently with activists.
Police hauled off several protesters as others shouted insults and chanted "open the road".
The protesters, led by a restive generation of students, have been demanding China's Communist Party rulers live up to constitutional promises to grant full democracy to the former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Before dawn on Friday, hundreds of police staged their biggest raid yet on a pro-democracy protest camp, charging down student-led activists who had held the intersection in one of their main protest zones for more than three weeks.
The operation came while many protesters were asleep in dozens of tents or beneath giant, blue-striped tarpaulin sheets. Continued...