BEIJING -- China on Friday foiled a planned attack on a passenger plane taking off from Urumqi, capital of the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, an official said here on Sunday.
The plane of China Southern Airlines took off at 10:35, and was forced to land at Lanzhou, capital of neighboring Gansu Province, at 12:40 Friday, because "some people were attempting to create an air disaster," said Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, on the sidelines of the ongoing parliament session.
The attackers were stopped in time by the air police, and all the passengers and crew members on board are safe, he told reporters after a panel discussion at the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (NPC).
An official with the airliner told Xinhua in a telephone interview that he cannot confirm whether the incident was a terror attack, "it's up to the police department to verify."
The plane arrived in its destination of Beijing on Saturday. The official did not elaborate on the details, just saying that the authorities are investigating "who the attackers are, where they are from and what's their background."
"But we can be sure that this was a case intending to create an air crash," he added.
Meanwhile, Wang Lequan, Politburo member of Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Xinjiang's Party chief, said Chinese authorities would adopt a strike-first policy toward the "three evil forces" of terrorists, separatists and extremists.
"We are prepared to strike them when the evil forces are planning their activities," Wang said.