China / Society

Plane hijack attempt foiled in Xinjiang

By Shao Wei in Urumqi (China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-30 03:31

Air crew and passengers on Friday foiled the attempted hijacking of an aircraft with 101 people on board in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, local police said. Eleven people were injured in the incident.

Six people, all males, tried to hijack Tianjin Airlines' flight GS7554 just 10 minutes after it took off from the Hotan Airport at 12:25 pm en route to the regional capital Urumqi, said officials from the regional public security department.

Two flight police officers were seriously injured, and two attendants and seven passengers were slightly injured in a fight with the hijackers, police said.

The plane then flew back and landed at Hotan Airport. The six suspects are now in police custody, local authorities said.

Police have not revealed whether the hijackers took firearms or weapons on board.

An employee at the Hotan Airport, who wished to remain anonymous, told China Daily that security checks would be conducted on the plane.

The Civil Aviation Administration said on late Friday it will commend the injured crewmembers and police officers for their bravery, and will reward the passengers who assisted in subduing the hijackers.

The thwarted attempt has frayed nerves at other airports in Xinjiang.

Workers at Kashgar Airport told China Daily that the number of airport security guards had doubled, and strict security checks were being carried out.

Passengers were asked to remove their shoes and open carry-on baggage for security checks at the airport.

Though police officers were ordered to remain alert, the atmosphere and operations at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport remained normal.

The hijacking attempt took place just days before the third anniversary of the July 5, 2009, riots in Urumqi, in which 197 people were killed and 1,700 injured.

On March 7, 2008, a 19-year-old Uygur woman attempted a terrorist attack on a China Southern Airlines flight that left Urumqi for Beijing. The attempt was foiled.

Xu Wei in Chongqing contributed to this story.

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