Hong Kong's leader is blaming "external forces" for helping stoke student-led pro-democracy protests that have brought parts of the Chinese territory to a halt in recent weeks.

Leung Chun-ying's statement in a televised interview on Sunday marked the first time he blamed foreign involvement for the unrest, something that Beijing has said repeatedly during the three weeks of demonstrations, according to The Associated Press.

The AP writes: "When asked on the Newsline program about a Chinese official's comments on outside involvement, Leung said, 'There is obviously participation by people, organizations from outside of Hong Kong.' Leung added that the foreign actors came from 'different countries in different parts of the world,' but didn't specify which countries."

NPR's Frank Langfitt, reporting from Hong Kong, says that many Hong Kongers view Leung, who was not democratically elected, as a puppet of Beijing. His echoing of China's line on the demonstrations is likely to reinforce that image.

Frank says after nights marked by violence and injury, the streets of Hong Kong have been peaceful, even as the protesters still control parts of three business districts. One of them, Mong Kok, has been the site of clashes between protesters and police.

The South China Morning Post says Hong Kong's High Court has ordered the demonstrators to leave Mong Kok in two cases brought against them by taxi drivers and a bus service that have suffered economic hardship as a result of the protest camps blocking main thoroughfares in the congested district.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.