0506 GMT February 18, 2020
Spokesman Rupert Colville urged Hong Kong authorities to de-escalate the situation at the Polytechnic University – where about 100 protesters are holed up – and address the humanitarian situation of those inside “which is clearly deteriorating”, Reuters reported.
Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday she hoped the standoff between police and a group of anti-government protesters at the university could be resolved and she had told police to handle it humanely.
Dozens of exhausted protesters occupying a Hong Kong university defied warnings to surrender Tuesday on the third day of the stand-off with police, as China sent fresh signals that its patience with nearly six months of unrest was running out, AFP reported.
Fearing arrest or being shot at by police, a dwindling number of protesters remained huddled inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) as night fell.
The siege at PolyU began Sunday with many hundreds of protesters occupying the campus as part of a broader campaign of massive disruption across Hong Kong that began last week.
The ensuing confrontation turned into the most intense and prolonged of Hong Kong's crisis, which has seen millions take to the streets since June.
During the siege, protesters had repelled police surges with a barrage of Molotov cocktails, arrows and bricks. Police in response threatened to use live rounds.
Some protesters escaped overnight on Monday by shinning down ropes from a footbridge to a road, where they were whisked away on motorbikes.
In her first public comments on the PolyU crisis, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said surrender was the only way to achieve a peaceful outcome.
"This objective could only be achieved with the full cooperation of the protesters, including of course the rioters.
"They have to stop violence, give up the weapons and come out peacefully and take the instructions from the police," she said.
Lam said children who surrendered would not be arrested, though protesters aged over 18 would face charges of rioting.
About 1,000 people had been arrested throughout Hong Kong over the previous 24 hours, Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen said on Tuesday afternoon.
This was roughly a fifth of all arrests since the unrest began in June.
The new phase of mass disruption, which began last week, has caused chaos throughout the international financial hub, with schools closed, train lines disrupted and major roads blocked by barricades.
Protests started in June as a peaceful condemnation of a China extradition bill.