10/03/2014, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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As violent scuffles break out between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing protesters police stand idly by

Masked Mandarin-speaking counter-demonstrators wielding sticks attack protest camps in Mong Kok and the Admiralty. Police do not intervene. Occupy Central protesters and students chant "Go back to Beijing!" "If the government does not immediately prevent the organised attacks on supporters of the Occupy movement, the students will call off dialogue," said the three main protest groups.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - After few hours of the detente between pro-democracy protesters and the local government, the streets of Hong Kong saw scuffles and clashes break out between peaceful demonstrators and anti-Occupy counter-demonstrators claiming to be "real citizens", as the police stood idly by.

A group of masked young men speaking Mandarin and not Cantonese led the charge. As they resisted, pro-democracy activists responded by chanting, "Go back to Beijing!"

"The atmosphere here in Admiralty has changed a lot," said Ian Mo, 28-year-old scientist who took part in the protest in the past few days.

"The people here were so peaceful over the past few nights," he explained. Now they "feel angry because of tonight's violence and are standing up again."

Mo said he saw the violence in Mong Kok close up. "There were some police standing by in the crowd but they simply did nothing".

Pro-democracy and student leaders blame the local government of Leung Chun-ying for the incidents.

Although many local residents have been angered by the disruption caused by the protests, activists say the opposition to them is being coordinated by the authorities.

"If the government does not immediately prevent the organised attacks on supporters of the Occupy movement, the students will call off dialogue on political reform with the government," said a statement by the three main protest groups in response to the scuffles.

Leung had announced talks yesterday, which eased tensions today.

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