Militant Rennie's Mill squatters fighting eviction pounced on riot police yesterday, injuring three officers. Demonstrators also threatened to blow up a score of liquefied petroleum gas cylinders they had used to bar the way of 600 policemen and clearance workers. Tension began to rise at 7 am as 10 lorries of police tactical unit officers in full riot gear arrived to protect about 400 demolition workers. They were deployed to evict diehard occupiers of some of the 188 squalid huts to be cleared in the first round of the operation. A 200-strong mob hurled abuse at officers and occupied a one-storey brick house at the entrance, holding up police and workers for almost the entire morning. Kwun Tong police district commander Chief Superintendent Francis Hillier, under the escort of 20 riot police, had his helmet grabbed and dumped into the rubbish-covered bay during a scuffle. Officers took action immediately and one lost his baton which was seen being thrown into the bay. A sergeant's neck was also injured when demonstrator Lau Ah-kwok, 35, jumped three metres from the top of the brick house onto a crowd of police officers. Mr Lau was not injured. Mr Lau roared at the officials before he jumped: 'You bad guys only want to crucify us. I shall die in front of you.' The officers' way was barred at the hilltop entrance for almost two hours by a wall of gas cylinders. At the height of the confrontation, protesters threatened to demolish the area by blowing up the cylinders. They also splashed blue paint over the police officers and workers. Two police received hand injuries during scuffles. The demonstrators were mostly former residents who had received compensation and rehousing, but returned to 'defend' the 82 families staying behind. Squatter Chum To-kwai, 73, was forcibly carried away after a 15-minute standoff. He wanted his son, whom the Housing Department said had had a unit elsewhere, to be given a rental unit as well. Mr Chum said: 'I want my son to have a decent home.' Another resident wielded sticks to fight off workers but surrendered after being promised a further round of compensation negotiations. There were no arrests during the last-ditch resistance, which failed to stop excavators from eating into the squatter area. But an 11th-hour reprieve was offered by Assistant Director of Housing Lau Kai-hung to 31 families who did not until yesterday accept compensation and rehousing. The official said: 'We do not want things to turn ugly. They can stay for another two weeks to pack their belongings.' He described yesterday's operation as successful despite some 'expected resistance'. He had ordered the remaining families to go before the end of next month or face eviction.