Passengers along with sky marshals aboard a plane in the western province of Xinjiang, China overpowered a group of hijackers on Friday. The flight had 101 aboard and just after takeoff the Tianjin Airlines flight the plane was taken over by three passengers in the front part of the plane and three in the rear. The six passengers announced the hijacking.
However, passengers and police on the plane tackled the six, tied them up using belts and waited for the plane to return to the same airport in Xinjiang. A local news agency said that a number of crewmembers and passengers were injured when subduing the hijackers.
A government spokesperson said that the six suspects were in custody and all were members of a Muslim Turkic minority group the Uighur. The incident is the last evidence of discontent in the province where many of the Uighurs and other minority groups are upset with the government’s rulers in Beijing.
The attempted hijacking came when state media trumpeted two important events: the arrival of President Hu Jintao in Hong Kong to celebrate it being a Chinese territory for 15 years, after the British handed it over back in 1997, and the return safely to Earth of the first female astronaut in China, after a space mission of 13 days.
Plane passengers distributed to Internet blogs, a number of photos of the six hijackers attempting to take control of the plane. One of them showed a man being tackled into a seat on the plane. It was not clear if the six were carrying arms, though one posting on Internet said one made had a crutch when he entered the plane and during the hijacking attempt, was clutching a device that had a detonator.