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Airline passengers and crew foil hijackers in China

Chinese passengers and air crew subdued six people who attempted to hijack a flight from western China. Were the hijackers Uighur separatists?

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Uighur man and woman carry a load of raw wool at Sunday Bazaar in Hotan, northwest China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. China faces simmering resentment in its traditionally Muslim Central Asian frontier. A hijacking was foiled on a flight from Hotan June 29, 2012.

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko/file

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Chinese airline passengers helped foil an attempt to hijack a plane in the western region of Xinjiang on Friday, state media said, the latest incident of instability in a part of China where the government says it is facing violent separatists.

Passengers and air crew subdued six people who attempted to hijack a flight 10 minutes after it took off from the remote desert city of Hotan, a heavily ethnic Uighur area that has been hit by recent bouts of violence, Xinhua news agency said.

The Tianjin Airlines plane was flying to the regional capital, Urumqi, when the attackers were overpowered, Xinhua said, citing police.
The aircraft returned to Hotan where six people were taken into custody, it said.

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The news agency did not identify the hijackers or give any information about their background.

Xinjiang is home to the mainly Muslim Uighur people who speak a Turkic language. Many of them chafe at Chinese government controls on their culture and religion.

Two guards on board the plane were seriously injured in the struggle with the hijackers, while the senior flight attendant and seven passengers were slightly injured, Xinhua added.

Pictures posted on China's Twitter-like microblogging site Sina Weibo showed grimacing passengers holding down at least one of the suspects and what looked like blood on one of the seats.

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