Police were yesterday accused of using excessive force after 12 right-of-abode protesters were injured when officers removed them from outside the Chief Executive's Office in Central. Student groups and a legislator demanded an explanation from the police for their actions during violent clashes when dozens of protesters were cleared from the Central Government Offices in Lower Albert Road at about 6.45am - shortly before Tung Chee-hwa and other officials arrived for work. Police used pepper spray and allegedly punched and bit demonstrators who had spent the night outside the Court of Final Appeal near the offices protesting on the right-of-abode issue. Six abode-seekers and six Hong Kong Federation of Students' members were injured during scuffles with dozens of police officers. The two sides blamed each other for breaching agreements on how the demonstration should be conducted. Four protesters said they were pepper-sprayed in the face, while another said he was bitten on the left hand and punched. One injured protester, Chan King-chi, 24, a former Hong Kong University Student Union president, said: 'I was carried and hurled out of the gate by several police officers. 'As I was still lying on the ground, scores of officers walked across me and stepped on me.' He suffered injuries to the leg, chest and arm. Another student, Yuen Hoi-yan, said: 'It was the police who attacked us first. We didn't even have a chance to shout - before we knew it we were being pushed outside the gate. The police officers sprayed pepper foam at some of us. We retreated without putting up any resistance.' Chan Fong-kwai, 20, said: 'A police officer sprayed pepper foam directly at my face only 20cm away. It was really painful. My face, eyes and chest were burning.' A police officer was also reportedly injured during the operation. It was the second major clash between right-of-abode claimants and police outside the offices. A riot broke out on December 3 last year when some of the hundreds of protesters fought police with rocks, bamboo sticks and flowerpots. Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun said last night: 'The use of pepper spray against the protesters, who were not armed, was excessive force.' But Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said the police action was 'necessary and wise'. Mrs Ip said the protesters had failed to inform the police about their demonstration. The protest began with 1,200 people marching on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of a ruling by the National People's Congress Standing Committee which effectively overturned a landmark immigration ruling by Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal. The latter decision led the SAR Government to seek a reinterpretation of Basic Law provisions to restrict abode rights for mainland children of SAR residents. The Federation of Students demanded Mrs Ip withdraw her 'false' statement and conduct a thorough investigation to punish any officers who had used excessive force. Central District Commander Chief Superintendent Mike Francis said the use of the spray was 'sensible' under the circumstances, for it avoided further injuries to police officers and protesters. Only one officer had used the spray. 'There was resistance - some of it violent in terms of pushing, punching and kicking police officers,' he said. The protesters had said they wanted to take shelter from the rain at around 3am by moving to the offices from the Court of Final Appeal, but only about 20 were allowed in. Another 70 stayed outside the headquarters' main gate. Police dispersed those inside the offices at 6.45am after failing to persuade them to leave. The protesters then squatted outside the offices' main gate and refused to leave, prompting further police action. While no one was arrested yesterday, the police did not rule out prosecutions at a later date. Mr Francis said police would conduct a review of the incident, including the alleged punching of protesters by officers, and security around the offices. Police said that while they respected people's rights to gather and express their views, it was their duty to maintain order and to minimise inconvenience to others. None of those hurt in yesterday's protest suffered serious injuries. Last night the protesters staged a candlelight vigil in Chater Garden.