Alert crew, passengers foil hijack bid

Suspected Uighur militants from China’s restive Xinjiang region on Friday attempted to hijack a plane but alert passengers and crew foiled the bid that left 10 people injured.

The six hijackers tried to take over the Tianjin Airlines’ Flight GS 7554 just 10 minutes after it took off from the Hotan airport and was en route to the regional capital Urumqi, about 1,400 km away.

Two flight policemen were seriously injured, while the head attendant and seven passengers were slightly injured in the fight with hijackers, the police said, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.

The hijackers, who were captured were suspected to be Uygur Muslim militants from Xinjiang, a region which has witnessed ethnic tensions.

Xinjiang, the home of Uygurs a Turkik-speaking Muslim community, has experienced ethnic clashes as Uygurs have resented the increasing settlement of Han Chinese majority in their region.

Suspects in custody

The plane then flew back and safely landed on the Hotan Airport. The six suspects are now in police custody, it said. Further investigation is underway.

The police have not revealed whether the hijackers took firearms or weapons on board the plane.

Airports in Xinjiang have the highest security in China as the province has experienced several such hijacking attempts in the past.

In 2009, the Xinjiang capital Urumqi witnessed massive anti-Han riots that prompted a major crackdown in the city.

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