China: Two plane hijacking suspects have died



China: Two plane hijacking suspects have died Zeenews Bureau

Beijing: Days after a hijack attempt was foiled in far west China, state media on Monday said that the two suspects have died in hospital.

The men allegedly tried to hijack a plane in Xinjiang region by battering the cockpit door with a crutch and trying to set off explosives.

Reports earlier said six Uighur men were held after the incident which left 10 people injured.

According to the state-run Global Times newspaper, two of the suspects had died in hospital from injuries sustained in the fight with passengers and crew, but didn't say when. The report cited local officials who weren't identified by name. Global Times said two others were hospitalised after mutilating themselves, but gave no details.

The report said authorities were investigating how the men, aged 20 to 36 and all from the city of Kashgar in the west of Xinjiang, managed to get the explosives past security checks.

Uighur Muslim militants are fighting against Chinese rule in the restive Xinjiang province of western China.

The Tianjin Airlines' Flight GS 7554 flight carrying 100 people took off from Hotan airport and was headed to the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi, 1400 km away, but just 10 minutes into air six hijackers tried to take over the aircraft, state run Xinhua news agency quoted regional public security bureau as saying.

The hijackers tried to break into the cockpit using a broken crutch as a weapon but were overpowered by passengers and crew, a statement from Hou Hanmin, a spokeswoman for the Xinjiang regional government was quoted as saying by BBC.

The plane safely returned to Hotan city in southern Xinjiang 22 minutes after takeoff, according to operator Tianjin Airlines.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur Congress which campaigns for Uighurs' rights, said on Friday that it wasn't a hijacking attempt but an in-flight brawl over a seat dispute.

Friday's incident occurred just a few days before the anniversary of the July 2009 riots in Urumqi when nearly 200 people were killed in fighting between Han Chinese and Uighurs.

Tensions are already high in Hotan, where authorities raided a religious school recently and are conducting home searches, according to the Washington-based Uighur American Association.

(With Agency inputs)