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Hong Kong Leader Says 'External Forces' At Work In Protests

A pro-democracy protester wearing goggles to protect his eyes from chemical agents gestures as police advance toward him and other demonstrators during clashes on a street in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong early on October 19.

Hong Kong's leader has said foreign forces are at work in the pro-democracy movement that has paralyzed parts of the city.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in a television interview on October 19 that "external forces" from other countries had been encouraging the mass sit-ins that have blocked major thoroughfares for three weeks, but refused to identify them.

Leung spoke as protest leaders blasted Hong Kong's police force over violent clashes that broke out in the Mongkok district October 19, with 20 people injured as officers struck surging crowds with batons.

Chinese state media have repeatedly alleged that "anti-China forces" such as the United States are manipulating the protesters.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed back to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" deal that guarantees freedoms not seen on the mainland.

One of the protest leaders, Joshua Wong, wrote on Facebook that his links with foreign countries are limited to his Korean mobile phone and U.S. computer.

"But, of course, all these are made in China," he added.

Alex Chow, president of the Hong Kong Federatoin of Students, also rejected Leung's charges and called on him to provide proof.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters