The police made their first significant appearance at the airport since protests began there five days ago, with at least five police buses arriving at the airport after 10:30 p.m.
Protesters scrambled to set up barricades as police officers left the buses and entered the airport. Riot police appeared soon after, amassing outside the airport terminal and clashing with demonstrators.
In one confrontation, a riot police officer was attacked from behind as he held down a protester. His baton was then taken and used against him by a protestor, before the officer drew what appeared to be a pistol and aimed it at the crowd.
The police arrived at the airport during a standoff between protesters and paramedics, who were trying to reach a man accused by demonstrators of being an undercover police officer. The man appeared to have lost consciousness at one point, but protesters refused to allow paramedics to evacuate him for several hours.
Protester lines broke upon the arrival of police, allowing paramedics to successfully evacuate him.
Police said in an earlier statement that their arrival to the airport was "not an operation to disperse those assembled but is for extricating the visitor safely."
"A visitor was assaulted and is currently being besieged by a large group of protestors at the Hong Kong International Airport. He requires immediate medical attention but the protestors concerned have been obstructing ambulance officers from rendering medical assistance," the statement said.
Police eventually retreated from the airport, but hundreds of protesters remained late Tuesday night.
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