Hoax threat forces China plane to land: report

Chinese police arrested a man in the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang for allegedly making a hoax threat that forced a plane into an emergency landing, state media said.

The man, whose name was only given as Wang, confessed to making a "fake terrorist threat" that led to the plane landing on Monday at an airport in Lanzhou, capital of northwest Gansu province, official news agency Xinhua said, citing security officials.

Resource-rich Xinjiang is home to roughly nine million people from the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority who have long been angered by what many see as government oppression.

The China Southern Airlines flight CZ680 had originally taken off from Istanbul in Turkey and landed in Xinjiang's provincial capital, Urumqi. It was en route for Beijing when the alert happened around 5:30 pm (0930 GMT).

A search of the Boeing 757, which was carrying 186 passengers and 10 crew, turned up no explosives or other suspicious items and it took off again at 10:45 pm, Xinhua said.

Such incidents on Chinese planes are rare, although a year ago a plane bound for Urumqi was forced into an emergency landing after a passenger claimed there was a bomb on board,

Police detained the 27-year-old woman passenger after she threatened to detonate explosives during the China United Airlines flight from Beijing to Urumqi.

She told police she had a problem with her boyfriend and was flying to Xinjiang to talk to him, state media said.

Two years ago, bloody ethnic riots in Urumqi killed 197 people and injured around 1,700.

Beijing says it has brought economic growth and prosperity to landlocked Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia, and has blamed much of the region's unrest on extremism, separatism and terrorism.

by Ivan Couronne © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Oct 8, 2012