Published On: Thu, Jul 5th, 2012

Two men attempt to hijack Chinese plane, beaten to death by passengers and crew

Two men, who allegedly tried to hijack a plane in China, were beaten to death by passengers and crew.

The Global Times newspaper reported that two of the suspects died in hospital from injuries they suffered during the ensuing fight with passengers and crew on board.

The men were part of a six-strong gang involved in the foiled hijack of a Tianjin Airlines flight bound for the regional capital of Urumqi last Friday.

Chinese passengers and crew subdue and beat to death hijackers Photos/weibo.com for release

Just minutes after the flight took off from Hetian, southwest Xinjiang, the men, all aged between 20 and 36, stood up and announced their plans to terrified passengers.

The gang reportedly broke a pair of aluminium crutches and used them to attack passengers while attempting to break into the cockpit, Hou Hanmin, a regional government spokeswoman said.

They were tackled by police and passengers who tied them up with belts before the plane, carrying 101 people, returned to the airport safely just 22 minutes later.

Hanmin added that police were still testing materials they had been carrying, thought to be explosives.

All six of the hijackers were ethnically Uyghur (the local Muslim ethnic minority), and they tried to break into the cockpit using a broken crutch as a weapon, but were overpowered by passengers and crew,” Hou Hanmin, chief of the regional information office, told the Global Times, adding that investigation is ongoing and whether the hijackers are part of a terrorist group remains unclear.

There have been clashes between authorities and Uighurs resentful of government controls over their religion and culture.

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

“We warn China not to use this incident as another excuse for crackdown,” he said in an emailed statement.

Li Wei, director of the Institute of Security and Strategic Studies at the Beijing-based China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that, judging by the nature of the hijack, it was a terrorist attack.

“The hijackers adopted violent measures to threaten the lives of civilians and their intentions are also suspicious since we’re coming up to July 5, the third anniversary of the riots in Xinjiang,” Li said. “The successful frustration of this terrorist plot proves that airport security is very important and that it’s also vital for the crew members and passengers to act quickly.”

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON


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