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Wally Santana, Associated Press
Upset pro-democracy students are moved as riot police clear their encampment in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, early Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Riot police moved in on the Mong Kok pro-democracy protest zone in a dawn raid on Friday, taking down barricades, tents and canopies that have blocked key streets for more than two weeks.

HONG KONG — New scuffles broke out Friday night between Hong Kong riot police and pro-democracy activists in a district where police cleared protesters earlier in the day.

Police used pepper spray and batons to fend off a large crowd of people who had gathered in Mong Kok, and several protesters were seen knocked to the ground or carried away by police.

The chaotic scenes unfolded hours after police moved in to clear tents, canopies and barricades at Mong Kok, a smaller protest zone across Victoria Harbor from the main occupied area in the heart of the financial district.

The dawn operation — the third in recent days by police to retake streets from protesters — came hours after Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying sought to defuse a bitter standoff with student-led democracy protesters by reviving an offer of talks over democratic reforms in the city.

However, Leung warned police wouldn't refrain from clearing protest sites while holding talks, and the latest clashes were likely to make it harder to resolve the crisis with protesters, who were already angered by a video of a group of officers kicking a handcuffed activist.

Leung said the protests, which have disrupted traffic in key roads and streets in three business districts since Sept. 26, could not go on indefinitely. Protesters are pressing for a greater say in choosing the semiautonomous Chinese city's leader in an inaugural direct election, promised for 2017.

Students and activists oppose Beijing's ruling that a committee stacked with pro-Beijing elites should screen candidates in the election. That effectively means that Beijing can vet candidates before they go to a public vote.

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