HONG KONG — The Hong Kong police early Monday morning tried to storm a university campus that antigovernment activists had occupied for days, a tense moment that could significantly escalate the monthslong political crisis gripping the semiautonomous Chinese city.
But while the police were able to arrest a few protesters at the outer edges of barricades protecting the university, they soon retreated after other students set the barricades on fire and threw dozens of petrol bombs at the police.
The police have been surrounding Hong Kong Polytechnic University and have threatened to use “lethal force” to arrest those who did not surrender. The attempted raid was the police force’s most direct intervention yet onto one of the city’s university campuses, which until recently were safe spaces for young demonstrators.
The police assault began at about 5:30 a.m. in Hong Kong, and at 6:15 a.m., the fire at the barricade was still big enough, and burning bright enough, to be visible at a distance.
It was unclear if the riot police were planning to regroup to make another attempt to clear protesters from the campus.
The standoff at the PolyU campus,