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Thousands at airport demand “Free Hong Kong”

Thousands of protesters calling for democracy and some chanting "free Hong Kong" converged on the Chinese-ruled city's airport on Friday as Singapore advised its travelers to avoid protest areas in the territory.

Hong Kong airport authorities said operations at one of Asia’s biggest civil aviation hubs would not be affected, but advised passengers to arrive early given the risk of disruption.

The former British colony, which returned to China in 1997, is embroiled in its worst political crisis for decades after two months of increasingly violent protests that have posed one of the gravest populist challenges to Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

At the airport protesters, many dressed in black and seated on the ground, gradually filled the entire arrivals hall. They held up signs calling on the government to withdraw the extradition bill completely, while chants of “Free Hong Kong” reverberated around the cavernous glass and steel hall.

Organizers said some 15,000 people took part in the protest over 11 hours, while police put the figure at 4,000 at its peak.

(Production: Yuddy Cahya, Tanya Lezaic)

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