Chinese airline gives reward to crew for foiling reported terrorist attack


BEIJING: China Southern Airlines has awarded US$57,000 (€36,000) to a plane crew that foiled what a senior Communist official has described as an attempted terrorist attack, a state-owned newspaper said Wednesday.

At least one person was arrested after one or more passengers were found in possession of a “suspicious liquid” on board the March 7 flight to the Chinese capital from Urumqi, the capital of China’s traditionally Muslim Xinjiang region.

China Southern Airlines offered 400,000 yuan (US$57,000; €36,600) to staff who prevented the attack, the Beijing News reported Wednesday. It did not say how many crew members would be sharing the reward.

China’s aviation regulator, the General Administration of Civil Aviation, said it did not know about the reward. China Southern Airlines could not immediately be reached for comment.

State media reported that a 19-year-old woman from western China’s Turkic Muslim Uighur minority was detained after trying to set a fire in a bathroom aboard the China Southern flight.

The unidentified woman had drained soda cans, used a syringe to fill them with gasoline and poured the contents into the bathroom, next to the fuel-filled wings, the Global Times reported.

No one was injured and the plane was diverted to Lanzhou, in western Gansu province, before continuing on to Beijing.

Xinjiang’s top Communist Party official, Wang Lequan, has said the failed plot was part of a terror campaign to turn the region into an independent nation called East Turkestan.

On Tuesday, Wang called on Xinjiang to boost its “fight against separatists” and educate the rest of the world on the “real condition” in the region, according to Xinjiang’s official news Web site.

China has since stepped up security at its airports, on top of stringent security plans being put in place for the Olympic Games in August. Passengers are now banned from carrying any kind of liquid aboard domestic flights, and passenger and luggage searches are being increased.