By Rabia Iclal Turan
ANKARA (AA) - Public transport has been suspended in Hong Kong as violence escalated after use of face masks was banned on Friday.
According to the police, protestors vandalized roads, metro stations, and shops during the night, resulting in the closure of the entire rail network in the city.
Using tear gas to disperse protesters, police took control later at night.
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam released a video on Saturday afternoon, calling the protests “the extreme acts of rioters”, which led Hong Kong to experience "a very dark night".
Banning use of face masks came after authorities failed to identify and trace an injured protestor, who was wearing a mask, while participating in protests on Oct 1.
While announcing the decision, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam insisted that emergency was not declared in the region, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO) restricts protesters from covering their faces in full or partially in public.
The ERO also gives the chief executive unlimited power in the event of an emergency.
"It was introduced in 1922 and has not been used since 1967, when riots backed by communists broke out in the region," Hong Kong Free Press reported.
The protestors in Hong Kong have been wearing surgical masks or head covers, to save themselves from being identified by the police.
According to the ordinance, medical workers and patients have been exempted from the law.
Hong Kong is witnessing unrelenting protests since June over a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to China. But protests forced government to dump the proposed legislation.
As protests continue, the businesses are badly hit in the region, known for its vibrant economy.
After Britain handed over the territory to Beijing in 1998, Hong Kong is enjoying an autonomous status, with issues of defense and foreign affairs vested with China.