For the past three weeks, Hong Kong residents have been taking to the streets to protest in favour of open, democratic elections, and the situation there remains very serious, with clashes between police and demonstrators taking another violent turn this weekend.

When we last reported on the situation, Hong Kong’s government had vowed to clear the streets, hinting that force may be used if necessary, but in spite of these threats, protesters still remain out in force.

Reuters report that, in the early hours of this morning, there was a violent clash between demonstrators and riot police in the contested and heavily populated Mong Kok district.

Police reportedly pushed protesters out of the area yesterday, but Reuters say that, around midnight local time, demonstrators put on protective gear and began “surging forward to grab a line of metal barricades hemming them into a section of road.”

“Amid screams and cursing, hundreds of officers began whacking the protesters who raised a wall of umbrellas. Pepper spray was used intermittently amid violent scuffles. The police then surged forward with riot shields, forcing protesters back.”

Last night’s clash is yet another sign that Hong Kong’s 28,000 strong police force are struggling to contain the sheer numbers of protesters. One man was beaten with batons and suffered cuts to the head, and several more were reportedly taken away. 

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has announced that talks between the student leaders of the protest and Hong Kong’s leadership will take place on Tuesday, and be broadcast live.

Protesters are concerned about the influence of mainland China in Hong Kong’s affairs, and are calling for free elections in 2017. For those who need to catch up on the story so far, we previously ran a detailed explanation of the situation, which you can read here.

Photo: Chris McGrath via Getty Images