190702 Hong Kong
Protesters gather inside the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong, Monday July 1, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Hong Kong: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday condemned the “extremely violent” storming of the city’s parliament, after thousands of protesters ransacked the assembly in an unprecedented display of defiance on the anniversary of the territory’s handover to China.

At a press conference in the early hours, Lam called Monday’s events “heartbreaking and shocking” and said she hoped society would “return to normal as soon as possible,” while acknowledging that thousands had marched peacefully in the city before the unrest.

The United States on Monday urged all sides in Hong Kong to avoid violence.

“We urge all sides to refrain from violence,” a State Department spokeswoman said.

“Hong Kong’s success is predicated on its rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly,” she said.