Suspect confesses to terrorist attempt on China flight

Updated: 2008-03-27 13:36

A 19-year-old female of Uygur ethnic background has confessed to a failed terrorist attempt on a passenger plane that left Urumqi on March 7, the Ministry of Public Security announced on Thursday.

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The ministry issued a statement about the latest investigation of the planned attack against a China Southern Airlines flight that took off from from Urumqi, capital of northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

It said that the suspect, Guzalinur Turdi, and others involved in the case were apprehended by police.

"On March 7, Turdi boarded the plane with a hidden explosive device that she got past airport security personnel. She went ahead with her plan for sabotage but was thwarted. She fully confessed," the statement said.

Wang Lequan, Xinjiang's Communist Party chief, told Xinhua last week that investigations had found that the incident was conducted by Eastern Turkestan separatists from abroad.

According to him, another man was detained together with Turdi on board the flight. A third suspect, detained a week later, admitted that he had masterminded, instigated and helped carry out the crime.

Flight CZ6901 left Urumqi at 10:35 hours on March 7, headed for Beijing. It made an emergency landing in Lanzhou, the capital of neighboring Gansu Province, at 12:40 hours.

Police launched an investigation as soon as the plane landed, the statement said.

"The investigation showed that the incident was an organized and premeditated terrorist attack targeting the aircraft," the statement said, adding that the case remained under investigation.

"We are fully prepared for security threats from any side and completely capable of foiling any terrorist attack," it said.

According earlier reports, the attack was averted by air marshals on the flight and the plane landed in Lanzhou after the crew and air police reported the incident to the control tower.

All the passengers and crew were safe and arrived in Beijing the next morning.

Sources from the airline said that crew members smelled gasoline on the woman as she left a toilet during the flight. They found a beverage can containing flammable liquid in a dustbin in the toilet. The drink had been replaced with the flammable liquid, using a syringe.

A week after the incident, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China issued a notice banning domestic air passengers from carrying liquids in their hand baggage.

China Southern Airlines offered a reward of 400,000 yuan (US$55,900) to staff who prevented the attack, according to Wednesday's Beijing News.

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