HONG KONG - Riot police used batons and pepper spray early on Tuesday to disperse crowds after clashes erupted when authorities tried to move illegal street vendors from a working-class district, the worst street violence since pro-democracy protests in late 2014.
Protesters hurled bricks at police as scuffles broke out, while other demonstrators set fire to rubbish bins in the streets of Mong Kok, a gritty neighborhood just across the harbor from the heart of the Asian financial center.
Police fired two shots into the air, a police spokeswoman said, amid chaotic scenes. Rubbish bins, chunks of brick and broken bottles lay scattered along the world-famous Nathan Road shopping strip on Tuesday morning.
About 40 police vans were parked nearby.
The clashes broke out after police moved in to clear "hawkers", or illegal vendors who sell local delicacies, trinkets and household goods from makeshift streetside stalls.