After Reports of Hijacking Attempt, China Tightens Airport Security
BEIJING — The western region of Xinjiang has increased security measures at all 16 of its airports after a failed hijacking attempt, according to a report on Thursday by Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.
Late Wednesday, a news Web site run by the Xinjiang government announced that Zhang Chunxian, the regional party chief, had visited antiterrorism security forces earlier that day. Both reports in the state-run media were intended to show a boost in security after what Chinese officials said was an attempted hijacking of a Tianjin Airlines flight last Friday after it took off from the city of Hotan, in southern Xinjiang.
The details of the event are murky. Chinese news organizations have quoted police officers and witnesses as saying that six men tried to hijack the airplane but were subdued by passengers and a group of policemen who happened to be on the plane. The news accounts said the men disassembled a crutch into metal rods and tried to use those to break into the cockpit.
But Ethnic Uighur exiles who criticize the Chinese government for repressing Uighurs in Xinjiang have said the story of the hijacking could be fictitious. The new security measures announced Thursday include requiring disabled passengers to present hospital-issued certificates if they want to bring crutches on a plane. Passengers flying from the city of Kashgar, which is near Hotan, must check crutches and wheelchairs as baggage.