Graphic: Examining the weapons and tactics used by police and protesters in Hong Kong

Slideshow ( 8 images )

HONG KONG (Reuters) - As the showdown between police and protesters in Hong Kong has intensified, officers have used increasing force, deploying an arsenal of crowd-control weapons, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, sponge grenades and bean bag rounds.

Protesters have also stepped up their actions, hurling petrol bombs, vandalizing mainland Chinese banks and businesses believed to be pro-Beijing, throwing bricks at police stations and battling officers in the streets, sometimes with metal bars.

While the number of protests has dropped in recent weeks, the violence has escalated.

Reuters scrutinized hundreds of images of the protests, as well as dozens of police reports and video footage, and combined this research with reporting on the ground to document the weapons used by the police and protesters, and how the violence has increased from day to day.

Click to see an interactive graphic story that lays out this analysis and looks at the types of crowd control weapons used by the police and their guidelines on the use of force.

“In the absence of a political solution, an escalating cycle of violence seems most likely, whereby increased demonstrator aggression elicits greater use of force by the police and ever more aggressive attacks from protesters,” said Steve Vickers, a risk consultant and a former commander of the Royal Hong Kong Police Criminal Intelligence Bureau.

Graphics and research: Gurman Bhatia, Marco Hernandez, Christian Inton, Anand Katakam and Simon Scarr.; Reporting and research: John Ruwitch, Felix Tam, Tom Westbrook, Greg Torode and Anne Marie Roantree in Hong Kong.; Editing by Simon Scarr and Peter Hirschberg