Hong Kong police shoot protester as pro-democracy unrest spirals into rare working-hours violence

Hong Kong police shot and wounded a protester who was in critical condition on Monday, hospital officials said, as the Chinese-ruled territory spiralled into rare working-hours violence in its 24th straight week of pro-democracy unrest.

Police fired tear gas in the Central business district where some protesters, crouching behind umbrellas, blocked streets as office workers on their lunch break crowded the pavements and hurled anti-government abuse.

Some passersby took cover inside the Landmark shopping mall, one of the oldest and most expensive in Central, as volley after volley of tear gas rained down.

Protests have happened almost daily in Hong Kong, sometimes with little or no notice, disrupting business and piling pressure on the government. But it is rare for tear gas to be fired during working hours in Central, lined with bank headquarters and top-brand shops. Some offices closed early and workers were heading home.

In Sai Wan Ho on the eastern side of Hong Kong island, police fired live rounds at close range at protesters and said one was wounded.

Video footage showed a man lying in a pool of blood with his eyes wide open. Police also threw a woman into the debris-littered street and pepper-sprayed her in the face as plastic crates were thrown at officers.