Passengers foil hijack bid over China’s Xinjiang
Airline passengers and crew foiled an attempted hijack of a domestic flight operating in the remote western region of Xinjiang on Friday, state media reported.
The incident is the latest sign of instability in the region dominated largely by the Uyghur community and has seen violent anti-government protests in the past, resulting in a clampdown by government forces.
At least 10 people were injured in the incident in which passengers and flight attendants subdued six alleged hijackers, sketchy details reported by the state-run Xinhua said Friday afternoon.
The Tianjin airlines' flight GS 7554 was on its way from the airport of Hotan airport - a town in the region -- to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region about 1400 km away when the attempted hijack took place. There were at least 100 passengers on board the flight.
Urumqi is located more than 2000 km to the west of Beijing.
Quoting police sources, state media said the six suspects attempted to take over the aircraft within 10 minutes of it taking off from Hotan airport.
"Six people allegedly tried to hijack Tianjin Airlines' Flight GS 7554 just 10 minutes after it took off from the Hotan Airport at 12:25 p.m. and en route to the regional capital Urumqi -- about 1,400 km away, officials with regional public security bureau said."
"Two flight policemen were seriously injured, head attendant and seven passengers were slightly injured in the fight with hijackers, police said," reported Xinhua.
It wasn't immediately revealed whether the alleged hijackers were armed.
After the attempt was foiled, the aircraft flew back and landed safely at the Hotan airport.
The six suspects, who are yet to be identified, were taken into police custody.
The Chinese government accuses the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) of fomenting separatism in the region.
In April, the government published for the first time photos of six alleged terrorists - all ethnic Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang but not in China at that time -- and said they were members of the (ETIM).
State media had said the ETIM was "the most direct and real safety threat that China faces."
"They have participated in the organisation, and planned and executed terrorist acts against Chinese targets within and outside the country," state media said.