China blames separatists for thwarted attack on airline
A thwarted attack on a Chinese passenger flight earlier this month was the work of " Eastern Turkestan separatists from abroad," official media on Saturday quoted a local official as saying. ( dpa )
Wang Lequn, the Communist Party chief of the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was reporting on a suspected terrorist attack on a China Southern Airlines plane flying to Beijing from Urumqi, capital of the western region, on March 7.
Authorities found a container of petrol in the wastebin of the flight's restroom. After an emergency landing in Lanzhou, a 19-year- old woman who smelled of petrol, and another passenger were arrested.
Within a week, authorities arrested another suspect, who is alleged to have planned the attack. Further details were not released.
Since the incident, Chinese aviation authorities have enacted tougher security measures, including banning liquids on flights within the country and limiting the airport at Urumqi to passengers with tickets and identification.
The region is home to the Uygur, an ethnic Turkic minority with a separate history, language and tradition and China's second-largest Muslim community. The Muslim population complains of oppression under Chinese rule.
China incorporated the former East Turkestan in 1949.