Hong Kong police use tear gas to disperse Christmas Eve protesters

Hong Kong police use tear gas to disperse Christmas Eve protesters
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Hong Kong police have reportedly fired tear gas at thousands of protesters on Christmas Eve in the latest skirmish during months of pro-democracy protests in the China-ruled city. 

Demonstrators threw objects at police and officers beat some protesters with batons, Reuters reported Tuesday. The wire service also said that one officer pointed his gun at the crowd but did not shoot. 

A government official has accused demonstrators of attacking police officers, setting fires, vandalizing shops and setting up barricades with umbrellas. 

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"These acts seriously disrupted social order, affected the festive mood and obstructed other people from enjoying the festive season, which are outrageous," the official said in a statement

In a separate statement, the city's government said that in response to protester actions disrupting traffic, police "will deploy minimum necessary force to effect dispersal and arrest."

According to Reuters, the Hong Kong demonstrations have been smaller in scale and intensity lately than previously. 

Demonstrations in Hong Kong first broke out over a now-shelved extradition bill, but have grown into a larger pro-democracy movement. Protester demands include universal suffrage and an independent investigation into alleged police brutality.