Hong Kong police fired teargas on Tuesday in the Central financial district, over the harbour in Mong Kok and at universities to break up pro-democracy protests which they said were leading the city to the “brink of total breakdown”.

After they had dispersed, police fired teargas at the remaining protesters on old, narrow Pedder Street. Police made more than a dozen arrests, many pinned up on the pavement against the wall of luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co.

“Our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown,” a police spokesman told a briefing, referring to the last two days of violence in the former British colony.

He said masked “rioters” had committed “insane” acts, such as throwing trash, bicycles and other debris onto metro tracks and overhead power lines, paralysing the transport system.

After they had dispersed, police fired tear gas at the remaining protesters on old, narrow Pedder Street. Police made more than a dozen arrests, many pinned up on the pavement against the wall of luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co.

“Our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown,” a police spokesman told a briefing, referring to the last two days of violence in the former British colony.

He said masked “rioters” had committed “insane” acts, such as throwing trash, bicycles and other debris onto metro tracks and overhead power lines, paralysing the transport system.