HONG KONG - Hong Kong's authorities announced Monday they were withdrawing riot police from the streets of the protest-wracked city in a major concession to pro-democracy demonstrators.
A statement posted on the government's website read: "Because citizens gathered on the street have calmed, riot police have been withdrawn."
The statement also called on protesters "to give up occupied roads as soon as possible for emergency vehicles to pass through and for the partial restoration of public transport services".
Thousands of protesters have taken control of at least three major thoroughfares, paralysing parts of the city after hours of overnight battles with police firing tear gas.
Throughout Monday morning the police presence has been noticeably more subdued with riot police replaced by smaller numbers of officers in everyday uniforms.
At one protest site in the busy Causeway Bay shopping district there was no visible police presence.
But demonstrators have shown little sign of heeding the government's call to leave the streets.