Related Story: Carrie Lam's backdown shocks Chinese but proves too little, too late for Hongkongers
A Chinese state-owned tabloid has used a picture of the September 11 attacks on New York's Twin Towers to accuse Hong Kong protesters of planning "massive terror attacks", prompting a pause by protesters to commemorate the disaster's 18th anniversary.
The September 11, 2001 attacks -- otherwise known as 9/11 -- saw Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda launch a series of four coordinated attacks on the United States by hijacking US passenger planes and flying them into prominent buildings.
Hijackers flew planes into New York's Twin Towers and Washington DC's Pentagon, while another plane -- also flown toward Washington DC -- crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought to regain control of the aircraft.
It remains the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history, killing nearly 3,000 people.
On Wednesday, the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily used an archival image of the Twin Towers attacks in a Facebook post alerting followers to a potential Hong Kong terror attack.
"Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11," the post read.
"The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Cantonese and starting mountain fires."
The publication claimed the information came from a leaked group chat message on Telegram.
In response, protesters called off demonstrations, which excluded singing and chanting.
Hong Kong has been rocked by three months of sometimes violent unrest -- prompted by anger over since rescinded legislation to allow extraditions to China -- which have called for universal suffrage and an end to Beijing's alleged encroachment of the former British colony's guaranteed rights and freedoms.
Following its handover to mainland China in 1997, Hong Kong was promised British capitalism, common law, and freedoms for a period of 50 years.
On the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover, Beijing claimed the declaration was non-binding and "no longer had any practical significance".
In a speech on Wednesday, Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam said Hong Kong was grappling with significant challenges in addition to the unrest, such as the US-China trade war.
"My fervent hope is that we can bridge our divide by upholding the one country, two systems principle, and the Basic Law, and through the concerted efforts of the government and the people of Hong Kong," she told business leaders.
China has denied meddling in Hong Kong's unrest and has accused the United States, Britain and others of fomenting it.
"We don't even need to do a fact check to know that this is fake news," said one protester, Michael, 24, referring to the China Daily post.
"The state media doesn't care about its credibility.
"Whenever something they claimed to have heard on WhatsApp or friends' friends, they will spread it right away."
Joshua Wong, one of the prominent leaders of the 2014 "Umbrella" pro-democracy movement that brought key streets in Hong Kong to a standstill for 79 days, said the fight for democracy was an uphill battle.
"I hope one day not only Hong Kong people, but also people in mainland China, can enjoy freedom and democracy," he said.
The protests spread to the sports field on Tuesday, as many football fans defied Chinese law to boo the national anthem ahead of a soccer World Cup qualifier against Iran.
Several peaceful protests are planned for the next few days, combining with celebrations marking the Mid-Autumn Festival.