The Latest on protests in Hong Kong (all times local):
Residents and protesters in Hong Kong have surrounded another police station after they were cleared from an area near one that they vandalized earlier in the night.
Some residents of neighborhoods impacted by the demonstrations Saturday have banded together with pro-democracy protesters in an effort to push riot police out.
In two other protest sites, crowds dispersed following lengthy standoffs with police and multiple rounds of tear gas.
Some protesters in black outfits used sling shots to hurl what appeared to be rocks at the police. Others set cardboard on fire to form a burning barricade.
A pro-democracy rally Saturday devolved after many protesters kept on marching when they reached the police-approved end point.
Hong Kong has been the scene of mass demonstrations for more than a month as residents call for greater democratic freedoms and an inquiry into police tactics.
Hong Kong police have fired tear gas at protesters after some of them vandalized a police station.
Police continuously fired several rounds of tear gas Saturday night to push back a group of protesters who had thrown bricks at a police station and spray-painted inflammatory language on its outer walls.
It was not immediately clear if protesters had also set something on fire, as two firetrucks appeared on the scene.
A rally earlier in the day in Hong Kong’s Mong Kok area continued past its designated endpoint. Protesters, under a canopy of umbrellas, installed barricades on major roads and removed bricks from the pavement.
While the summer-long pro-democracy rallies have been largely peaceful, they have increasingly devolved into violent clashes with police after some protesters refused to disperse at assigned times.
Protesters have removed a Chinese national flag from a pole and flung it into Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour.
After a pre-approved rally Saturday continued past its designated endpoint, demonstrators surged through a busy tourist area by the waterfront.
When they reached a set of flagpoles bearing the Hong Kong flag as well as the national flag of China, one protester climbed up the pole and removed the Chinese flag. After some debate over whether they had time to paint the flag black, they decided to throw it into the water before police could intervene.
The act is reminiscent of moves last month that infuriated the Communist Party-led central government. After one rally a few weeks earlier, some protesters went to the liaison office, which represents the mainland Chinese government, and threw black paint and eggs at the national emblem on the building.
Police in Hong Kong say protesters have blocked the entrances to a major tunnel and seriously obstructed traffic.
The demonstrators pressed on Saturday past their rally’s pre-approved endpoint and set up barricades on a large road. Police had warned earlier in the day that deviations from the designated route would constitute an unauthorized assembly — an illegal act.
Protesters wearing black shirts and face masks have made their way through Mong Kok, a popular shopping district. While most of the storefronts along the route closed early, some remained open and provided demonstrators with drinks. At one corner shop, umbrellas — a symbol of the city’s pro-democracy movement — were on prominent display.
A couple of hours into the rally, protesters began setting up first aid stations and handing out helmets on the side of the road.
Non-emergency services have been suspended at two police stations near the protest sites.
Hong Kong protesters have ignored police warnings and streamed past the designated end point for their Saturday rally.
Protesters filled the roads in a usually bustling market district. The street along the route was completely filled with protesters, while others were reduced to single lanes.
Police warned earlier in the day that those who continued past the pre-approved route would be breaking the law.
Hong Kong’s summer of protest has continued unabated despite the government’s decision to suspend a contentious extradition bill. While the pro-democracy rallies have been largely peaceful, they have increasingly devolved into violent clashes with police after some protesters refused to disperse at assigned times.
Hong Kong police have called on the public to stick to designated routes and times for a spate of protests planned this weekend.
Police said in a briefing ahead of a scheduled rally Saturday that any demonstrations that are not pre-approved are unlawful.
Hong Kong’s summer of protest has continued unabated despite the government’s decision to suspend a controversial extradition bill. While the pro-democracy rallies have been largely peaceful, they have increasingly devolved into violent clashes with police after some protesters refused to disperse at assigned times.
Police on Saturday did not rule out engaging in clearance operations for those who disregard the terms of their assembly permit. In past weekends, protesters have vandalized buildings and thrown bricks, while police have used tear gas.
Moscow police detain more than 800 at protest, monitor says
Police in Moscow cracked down hard on an unsanctionedelection protest for the second weekend in a row Saturday, detaining more than 800 people at a rally against the exclusion from city council contests of some independent and opposition candidates, an arrest monitoring group said.
Election officials rejected signatures several candidates needed to qualify for next month’s local ballot. The decision tapped dissatisfaction with a political environment dominated by the Kremlin-aligned United Russia party, in which dissenting voices are marginalized, ignored or repressed.
The OVD-Info organization, which tracks arrests in Russia, said 828 people were detained Saturday.
The Russian Interior Ministry said the number was about 600 in a crowd of about 1,500 protesters, although police are widely believed to understate crowd estimates for opposition events.
The detentions came a week after authorities arrested nearly 1,400 people at a similar protest.
Lyubov Sobol, one of the excluded candidates and a driving figure of the current wave of protests, was among those detained. She was grabbed by police in central Moscow and hustled into a police van, loudly demanding to know why she was being held.
Demonstrators were aiming to hold a march along the Boulevard Ring, which skirts central Moscow and is a popular locale for people to walk around, despite repeated warnings that police would take active measures against a protest.
Helmeted riot police lined the route and started seizing demonstrators from a scattered cluster on Pushkin Square and pushing them back from another square further along the route.
Some of the detentions were harsh, including one young bicyclist who was beaten with truncheons as he lay on the pavement still straddling his bike. Some other detainees appeared nonchalant, smirking or checking their phones as police led them to buses.
The demonstrations dissipated after about four hours as a steady, cold rain began falling.
Once a local, low-key affair, the September vote for Moscow’s city council is now emblematic of the division within Russian politics and the Kremlin’s ongoing struggles with how to deal with strongly opposing views in its sprawling capital of 12.6 million people.
In the past month, the issue has provoked a surprisingly large outcry for a local election. On July 20, about 20,000 people turned out for a demonstration that was the largest in the city in several years.
On Saturday, about 2,000 people attended another rally in St. Petersburg supporting the Moscow protests, the local news site Fontanka.ru reported.
The Moscow city council, which has 45 seats, is responsible for a large municipal budget and is now controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. All of its seats, which have a five-year-term, are up for grabs in the Sept. 8 vote.
Also Saturday, Russia’s Investigative Committee announced it was opening a criminal case against the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, headed by the Kremlin’s most prominent foe Alexei Navalny. The committee said the organization was suspected of receiving funding that had been criminally acquired.
Navalny is serving 30 days in jail for calling last week’s protest. The head of the foundation also is jail in connection with that protest.
India orders students, tourists out of Kashmir for security
Thousands of Indian students and visitors were fleeing Indian-controlled Kashmir over the weekend after the government ordered tourists and Hindu pilgrims visiting a Himalayan cave shrine “to curtail their stay” in the disputed territory, citing security concerns.
Meanwhile, tensions flared along the highly militarized Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan as Pakistan accused India of using cluster munitions to target the civilian population, killing two people.
Hundreds of Indian and foreign visitors, including some Hindu pilgrims, on Saturday congregated outside the main terminal at the airport in Srinagar, the region’s main city, seeking seats on flights out. Most were unlikely to get tickets, however, as authorities had yet to arrange additional flights, officia
On Friday, Indian aviation authorities told airlines to be ready to operate additional flights from Srinagar to ferry pilgrims and tourists out, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
Tourists and pilgrims also took buses out of the region after authorities went to hotels in the tourist resorts of Pahalgam and Gulmarg on Friday evening telling them to leave. Authorities also bused out hundreds of Indian students from some colleges in Srinagar.
The order cited the “prevailing security situation” and the “latest intelligence inputs of terror threats with specific targeting” of the annual Hindu pilgrimage as reasons for the advisory.
On Thursday, officials suspended the pilgrimage for four days due to bad weather along the route. Over 300,000 people have visited the icy cave since July 1.
The evacuation order has intensified tensions following India’s announcement that it was sending thousands of more troops to one of the world’s most militarized areas, sparking fears in Kashmir that New Delhi was planning to scrap an Indian constitutional provision that forbids Indians from outside the region from buying land in the Muslim-majority territory.
In its election manifesto earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party promised to do away with special rights for Kashmiris under India’s Constitution.
Rumors had swirled in the region on Friday, ranging from disarming of Kashmiri police forces to the Indian military taking over local police installations and schools being ordered closed, further ratcheting up tensions.
By Friday night, residents in Srinagar and other towns thronged grocery stores and medical shops to stock up on essentials. They lined up at ATMs to take out money and at gas stations to fill up their vehicles.
However, tensions eased on Saturday, though Kashmiri politicians and the public were eager to know what is to come.
Omar Abdullah, a pro-India Kashmiri leader who has criticized the Modi-led government’s muscular approach in Kashmir, said New Delhi should clear the air in Kashmir.
Ordinary Kashmiris fear the government measures are a prelude to intensifying an ongoing crackdown against anti-India dissenters. Kashmir, a region known for lush green valleys, lakes, meadows and dense forested mountains, has become notorious for security lockdowns and crackdowns.
On Saturday, Pakistan’s military accused Indian forces of using banned cluster munitions to target the civilian population along the Line of Control in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir, killing a 4-year-old boy and a woman. It said another 11 villagers were critically wounded.
“This is violation of Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law,” the military said in a statement. “This blatant Indian aggression against all international norms exposes true character of Indian Army and their moral standing.”
Pakistan urged the international community to take notice.
The Indian army rejected the Pakistan claim. It said Indian soldiers killed five attackers while foiling an attempt by gunmen from Pakistani to target an Indian post.
Indian responses are only against military targets and “infiltrating terrorists who are aided by Pakistan army,” another statement by the Indian army said.
As tension escalated between the two sides, authorities in Pakistan-held Kashmir ordered evacuation of thousands of residents along the frontier. They also asked residents to remain vigilant of “toy bombs” fired by India.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry urged India to act “responsibly” and “work toward preserving rather than imperiling peace and security in South Asia.”
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and each claims the divided Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.
About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.
US prosecutors accuse Honduran president of drug conspiracy
U.S. federal prosecutors have accused the Honduran government of essentially functioning as a narco-state, with the current and former presidents having received campaign contributions from cocaine traffickers in exchange for protection.
A 49-page document filed in New York’s southern district on Friday refers to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández as a co-conspirator who worked with his brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, and former President Porfirio Lobo “to use drug trafficking to help assert power and control in Honduras.”
It says that the president and his predecessor “relied on drug proceeds” to fund political campaigns and cites “evidence of high-level political corruption.”
The filing comes just months after other U.S. federal court documents showed the current president and some of his closest advisers were among the targets of a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation, casting further doubt on the United States’ assertion that Honduras has helped stop the flow of drugs.
The U.S. government has been a staunch supporter of Hernández’s government, pouring millions of dollars into security cooperation to stop cocaine headed to the U.S. from South America.
The office of the Honduran president said via Twitter on Saturday that Hernández “categorically denies the false and perverse accusations.”
It later issued a separate, lengthier statement suggesting that the allegations in New York were put forward by drug dealers seeking retaliation against the president, who was head of the Central American country’s congress in 2012 when the legislature authorized extradition of Honduran nationals to face drug-trafficking charges in the U.S.
Since then, the president’s office said, more than 40 Hondurans have been extradited and others have negotiated plea deals with U.S. officials in exchange for information.
“President Hernández has been relentless in the fight against drug traffickers despite predictable reprisals, to the point that one of his 17 siblings, a younger brother, is now being tried in New York,” the office said.
Specifically, New York prosecutors allege that the president used $1.5 million in drug trafficking proceeds to help secure power in 2013. That campaign support came via cash bribes to Honduran officials as well as gifts and favors to local politicians, prosecutors argue. Hernández won re-election in 2017, despite term-limits in Honduras and widespread allegations of election fraud.
The filing also alludes to multiple payments of $1 million or more from drug dealers to Lobo.
Lobo’s wife was arrested by Honduran officials in 2018 on charges of diverting $700,000 in public funds. His son, Fabio, was sentenced in the U.S. to 24 years in prison in 2017 for drug trafficking.
Lobo was Hernández’s mentor and oversaw his rise to power.
The filing forms part of pre-trial documents in an upcoming case against Tony Hernández, who was arrested in 2018 in Miami on charges of smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the U.S.
Prosecutors describe Tony Hernández as a “violent, multi-ton drug trafficker” with significant influence over high-ranking Honduran officials, who in turn protected his shipments and turf. They also say that members of the Honduran National Police escorted his cocaine through the country’s waters and airspace, while Lobo once deployed military personnel to the nation’s border with Guatemala to deter another drug trafficker from encroaching on territory in western Honduras.
On at least two occasions, prosecutors say Tony Hernández helped arrange murders of drug-trafficking rivals, one of whom he had executed by a member of the national police. That hit man was later promoted to chief of police, they say.
The court filing included an image of a kilo of cocaine monogramed with the initials TH, which prosecutors say stood for Tony Hernández.
The DEA says Tony Hernández’s trafficking career began in 2004 and continued after he won a seat in Honduras’ congress in 2014. It’s unclear why Hernández was in Miami when U.S. officials arrested him last year.
Separately, on Friday, a New York judged sentenced Honduran Hector Emilio Fernández Rosa to life in prison for drug trafficking.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, who is also handling the Tony Hernández case, said Fernández paid millions of dollars in bribes to Honduran officials during his career, including a $2 million payment to former President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales.
Zelaya was forced out of office via a 2009 coup, after which Lobo was elected president.
Associated Press writer Marlon González contributed to this story from Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
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