Hong Kong authorities clear protest site

HONG KONG authorities have begun clearing barricades at the main protest camp, after more than two months of pro-democracy demonstrations.

The authorities had warned protesters to leave ahead of the operation, but some vowed to remain.

The number of protesters has fallen to a few hundred, from the tens of thousands who turned out in September.

No clashes have been reported but police say they will start to make arrests shortly.

Police began building up their presence for what is being widely seen as the final act in the long-running protests at the Admiralty site during the early morning.

Just after 09:00 (01:00GMT) bailiffs read out a final warning to protesters.

At around 10:30, workers backed by police moved in and began dismantling barricades in one section of the site, using box cutters to remove ties.

Three hours later, police gave protesters 30 minutes to leave or be arrested.

"After this half-an-hour police will lock down the occupied area and set up a police cordon area... If anyone refuses to leave police will take action to disperse or arrest," said senior police officer Kwok Pak-chung.

The protesters want Beijing to allow free elections for the territory's next leader in 2017. China says everyone can vote but a pro-Beijing committee will screen candidates.

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