Clashes between protesters and police have broken out in Hong Kong, cutting short a rally after thousands gathered at a park to call for greater democratic freedoms in the Chinese-ruled city.

Riot police on Sunday fired tear gas at protesters and arrested several people near the park, known as Chater Garden after some demonstrators attacked plain-clothes officers.

Authorities had allowed the rally as long as those taking part stayed in one location. Police warned they would stop anyone attempting to march.

A woman cries as she pleads with the police not to beat a man as police detain protesters in Hong Kong [Ng Han Guan/AP]

Protesters spilled onto the streets, sporting their movement’s trademark black clothing and face masks. Some barricaded the roads with umbrellas and street furniture, dug up bricks from the pavement and smashed traffic lights.

Two police officers were attacked with wooden sticks and sustained head injuries, forcing the police to sweep into the area and to fire tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Ventus Lau, the rally organiser, was arrested for allegedly violating the police’s condition for the rally.

‘Free Hong Kong!’

Earlier, protesters packed into Chater Garden, located near the city’s Legislative Council building, holding up signs that read: “Free Hong Kong”.

They chanted “we want real universal suffrage” and “disband the police force”. Some waved American, British and Hong Kong independence flags. (Aljazeera)