Hong Kong arrested 19 people, some believed to have organized crime ties, during a night of running brawls stretching into Saturday as mobs tried to drive pro-democracy protesters from the streets. At least 12 people and six officers were injured during the clashes, Senior Superintendent Patrick Kwok Pak-chung said. Protest leaders called off planned talks with the government on political reforms after the battles kicked off Friday afternoon in gritty, blue-collar Mong Kok, across Victoria Harbor from the activists' main protest camp. Those arrested face charges of unlawful assembly, fighting in public and assault, Kwok said, adding that eight men are believed to have backgrounds involving triads, or organized crime gangs.
The protesters urged residents to join their cause and demanded that police protect their encampments. The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of people earlier this week, said they saw no choice but to cancel the dialogue. "The government is demanding the streets be cleared. We call upon all Hong Kong people to immediately come to protect our positions and fight to the end," the group said in a statement.
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