HONG KONG (Reuters) - Student leaders in Hong Kong called on pro-democracy supporters on Sunday to decamp from outlying protest sites and join the bulk of demonstrators in the heart of the Asian financial center as they gear up for a potential showdown with police.
Tens of thousands of protesters have staged sit-ins across Hong Kong over the past week, demanding the city's pro-Beijing leader Leung Chun-ying step down and for the right to vote for a leader of their choice in 2017 elections.
Scores of protesters in the teeming suburb of Mong Kok, across the harbor from the government center, sobbed as leaders urged them to pack up and head to the Admiralty district, adjacent to the city's main business district.
"We will be back. Fight till the end," the students chanted.
The crowded, working class area of Mong Kok has witnessed the worst clashes between pro-Beijing groups and democracy protesters over recent days.
Many Hong Kong residents expressed anger and frustration at police handling of the unrest, with some accusing security forces of co-operating with criminal gangs, failing to make arrests and helping some attackers to exit the scene quickly.
Protesters were also retreating from the area outside Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's office, with police removing barricades nearby.
The protesters earlier bowed to government pressure and said they would lift a blockade of key government buildings to allow civil servants to return to work on Monday.
(Reporting By Yimou Lee and Twinnie Siu, Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)