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Hong Kong leader says escalation of violence becoming more serious

HONG KONG, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the escalation of violence in anti-government protests that have rocked the Asian financial centre for three months is becoming more serious.

Lam was speaking in public for the first time since anti-government demonstrations escalated on Sunday, when police fired water cannon and volleys of tear gas in running battles with protesters who threw bricks and petrol bombs.

The Chinese-ruled city is grappling with its biggest political crisis since its handover to Beijing in 1997 and Communist Party authorities have sent a clear warning that forceful intervention is possible to quell the unrest.

(Reporting By Clare Jim, Donny Kwok, Farah Master, Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Michael Perry)