Two of the six Uygur men who allegedly attempted to hijack a passenger plane in restive Xinjiang on Friday have died, state media reported yesterday.
The Global Times, an offshoot of the Communist Party's mouthpiece People's Daily, quoted an unnamed local official as saying that two of the suspects had been pronounced dead and another two were still receiving treatment in a hospital.
Other mainland media have not reported the deaths, but some media sources confirmed they had heard similar news.
'From what I've learned, two of them were seriously wounded and died in a hospital, while others who were hurt are still undergoing treatment,' one mainland journalist said yesterday. 'The injuries they suffered are not life-threatening.'
The Uygurs reportedly battered the cockpit with a metal crutch and tried to set off explosives a few minutes after the Tianjin Airlines flight, carrying 92 passengers and nine crew, took off from Hotan airport, bound for the regional capital, Urumqi , at about 12.30pm on Friday.
The attempted hijacking occurred just days before Thursday's third anniversary of clashes between Han Chinese and the Uygur minority in Urumqi on July 5, 2009, that left nearly 200 dead and hundreds wounded.
With the help of six plain-clothes police on board the flight, crew members managed to bring the suspects under control.
Tianshannet, a Urumqi-based news portal, reported that 10 people who helped subdue the suspected hijackers had each been awarded 100,000 yuan (HK$122,000) for bravery and that the flight crew had been given a 500,000 yuan reward as a group at a special meeting attended by senior regional officials yesterday.