About 600 protesters who were trapped by police inside a Hong Kong university have surrendered to the authorities, chief executive Carrie Lam has said.
Lam said that among those who had given themselves up to police were 200 children.
Over the past 24 hours police fought running battles with protesters trying to break a security cordon around Polytechnic University in the city, firing teargas both at activists trying to escape the besieged campus and at crowds trying to reach it from outside.
Lam said on Tuesday that she had told police to handle the situation in a humane way and that representatives had been sent in to persuade the remaining 100 protesters to come out peacefully.
She said no “immediate” arrests of under-18s had been made. She said however that authorities reserved the right to make further investigations in the future.
Hong Kong’s new police chief, Chris Tang, took office on Tuesday with a warning that “fake news” was undermining the reputation of his 30,000-strong police force and called for the city’s citizens to help end the turmoil. Tang replaces outgoing Commissioner Stephen Lo, who has presided over months of unrest.
The sprawling campus has been occupied by demonstrators since last week, and has become the focus of the most prolonged and tense confrontation between police and protesters in more than five months of conflict in the semi-autonomous city.
Hundreds of protesters, including secondary school students, have been trapped inside for more than 24 hours, after clashes on Sunday during which protesters launched petrol bombs and shot arrows at police, who threatened to use live rounds.
Police said they had allowed Red Cross volunteers into the university to ferry out injured protesters but said the rest had no option but to give themselves up. “Other than coming out to surrender, I don’t see, at the moment, there is a viable option for them,” Cheuk Hau-yip, regional commander of Kowloon West district, told a press conference, adding that police had the ability and resolve to end the standoff peacefully so protesters should not try their luck.