BEIJING -- Passengers and flight crew helped foil a hijacking attempt Friday in the restive Chinese province of Xinjiang, the official New China News Agency said, citing police.
Six people reportedly tried to seize control of Tianjin Airlines Flight GS 7554 about 10 minutes after it took off from the city of Hotan at 12:25 p.m. for the provincial capital of Urumqi in western China.
The attackers were subdued in a scuffle resulting in injuries to two “flight policemen,” a supervising flight attendant and seven passengers, the news agency reported.
The flight returned to Hotan, where the six suspects were taken into custody.
Pictures inside the flight posted on Chinese micro-blogs showed passengers holding down two of the alleged hijackers by the back of their necks.
Another micro-blogger who claimed to be a friend of a passenger said he was told that one of the would-be hijackers pretended to have a limp and launched the attack with a walking stick. Accomplices joined the first hijacker from the rear of the aircraft, but passengers fought back using belts.
None of the attackers were identified and it was unknown what ethnicity they were.
Xinjiang has been a hotbed of ethnic tension between the predominant Han Chinese and Uighur minority, a Muslim group that speaks a Turkic language and, in some cases, support independence from Beijing.
The two sides have clashed in recent years, none more dramatically than in 2009 when 156 people were killed in riots in Urumqi.
-- David Pierson