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Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters shut down airport

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One of the world’s busiest airports canceled all flights after thousands of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters crowded into the main terminal Monday afternoon.

Hong Kong International Airport said in a statement that the demonstration “seriously disrupted” airport operations.

Hong Kong has experienced more than two months of mass protests calling for democratic reforms and an independent inquiry into police conduct, with both the protesters and police adopting ever-more extreme tactics.

Only flights that had already begun boarding or those cleared for landing were allowed to use runways at the airport, the AP reports.

“All other flights have been canceled for the rest of today,” the statement said. Many protesters wore eye patches after reports that a young woman lost an eye after being hit by a police beanbag round fired at close range during protests on Sunday.

A massive traffic jam soon formed on the highway leading back to Hong Kong’s city center, with some people walking in the sweltering weather.

Earlier on Monday, Hong Kong police showed off water cannons that could be deployed in the case of future demonstrations, a development which Amnesty International has warned could lead to serious injuries if misused within the densely-populated city’s confined spaces.

At the airport, a flight attendant protesting on his day off, who gave only his surname, Lau, to avoid repercussions from his employer, said heavy-handed police tactics had alienated some people.

“The police have told a lot of lies to Hong Kong people. We cannot believe them anymore. We have to come here to protest,” Lau said. China has reportedly threatened to bar air crew who take part in protests from its air space.

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