About 100 anti-government protesters remained holed up at a Hong Kong university Tuesday as a police siege of the campus entered its third day.
City leader Carrie Lam said 600 people had left the Hong Kong Polytechnic campus, including 200 who are under 18 years old.
Police have surrounded the university and are arresting anyone who leaves. Lam said those under 18 would not be immediately arrested but could face charges later.
She said that the other 400 who have left have been arrested.
“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 after a weekly meeting with advisers.
Now in its fifth month, the Hong Kong protest movement has steadily intensified as local and Beijing authorities harden their positions and refuse to make concessions.
Universities have become the latest battleground for the protesters, who used gasoline bombs and bows and arrows in their fight to keep riot police backed by armoured cars and water cannon out of two campuses in the past week.
China, which took control of the former British colony in 1997 promising to let it retain its autonomy, flexed its muscles, sending troops outside their barracks over the weekend in a cleanup operation.
China’s ambassador to Britain accused the UK and the US of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and warned that the Chinese government “will not sit on our hands” if the situation in Hong Kong “becomes uncontrollable.”
Lam, asked whether she would seek help from Chinese troops based in Hong Kong, said her government remains confident it is able to cope with the situation.