The Hong Kong police on Sunday deployed water cannons during the ongoing protests for the first time, using them to clear road barricades erected by demonstrators, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

According to the outlet, two police vehicles equipped with water cannons arrived at the scene of violent protests.

The police used the water cannons to remove barricades erected by demonstrators, with no protesters present on that part of the road during the operation.

According to Hong Kong police instructions, if used, water cannons can only target protesters’ legs.

​On Saturday, protests in China’s semi-autonomous city turned violent. Demonstrators were building barricades, obstructing traffic, damaging lampposts and hurling hard objects at police officers. To disperse the crowd, police fired tear gas. Nearly 30 people were detained.

Mass protests are underway in Hong Kong for the 12th consecutive weekend. Initially being a reaction to proposed amendments to the city’s extradition laws, they have grown into a full-blown opposition movement, demanding not only the full withdrawal of the controversial initiative, but also resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, retraction of the government’s classification of the violent clashes as riots, independent inquiry into the police actions, and release of all those arrested in the clashes with the police.

Beijing has condemned the demonstrations as radical and illegal and has stressed the need to counter the vandalism by some protesters. It has also urged everyone to respect the law and has denounced what it called foreign meddling in support of the protesters.

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