Airline crew thwarted China hijack bid


BEIJING – Chinese officials said on Sunday it was the airline crew that thwarted the hijack attempt of an airliner last week, and that all the passengers and crew were safe.

Chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, Nur Bekri, didn’t elaborate further, saying authorities were investigating “who the attackers were, where were they from, and what’s their background”.

The materials seized by the Chinese police during the Urumqi raid showed that the terrorists had planned to “specifically sabotage the staging of the Beijing Olympics”, and the separatist gang that was pulverised had collaborated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – a UN-designated international terrorist group.

“The Olympic Games slated for this August is a big event, but there are always people who conspire to commit sabotage. Those terrorists, saboteurs, and secessionists are to be battered resolutely, no matter what ethnic group they are from,” said Wang Lequan, who is also a member of the Communist Party’s politburo.

He also said the group had been trained and was following orders of a Uighur separatist group based in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Chinese forces have for years been battling a low-intensity separatist movement among Xinjiang’s Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim people culturally and ethnically distinct from China’s Han majority.

Xinjiang separatists are not known to have ventured into the Chinese capital so far.

The government had in 2007 repeatedly described terrorism as a major threat to the Games.

But this is the first time that a senior Communist Party leader has revealed concrete plans by terrorists to target the Games venue.