Tianjin Airlines Flight 7554

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Tianjin Airlines Flight 7554
Tianjin Airlines Embraer ERJ-190-100IGW 190AR Zhao-1.jpg
A Tianjin Airlines Embraer 190 similar to the one involved
Incident
Date29 June 2012 (2012-06-29)
SummaryAttempted hijacking
SiteEn route shortly after departure from Hotan Airport, China
Aircraft
Aircraft type Embraer 190
Operator Tianjin Airlines
Registration B-3171
Flight origin Hotan Airport, China
Destination Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport, China
Occupants101
Passengers92 (including 6 hijackers)
Crew9
Fatalities2 (hijackers)
Injuries13 (including 2 hijackers)
Survivors99

Tianjin Airlines Flight 7554 (Chinese :天津航空公司GS7554; pinyin :Tiānjīn Hángkōng Gōngsī GS7554) was a scheduled passenger flight between Hotan and Ürümqi in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region. [1] The aircraft operating this route on 29 June 2012, an Embraer 190, took off from Hotan at 12:25 pm; within ten minutes, six ethnic Uyghur men, one of whom allegedly professed his motivation as jihad, announced their intent to hijack the aircraft, according to multiple witnesses. In response, passengers and crew resisted and successfully restrained the hijackers, who were armed with aluminum crutches and explosives.

Contents

The aircraft turned around and landed at 12:45 pm back in Hotan, where 11 passengers and crew and two hijackers were treated for injuries. Two hijackers died from injuries from the fight on board. The Xinjiang government classified the incident as terrorism. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) reviewed Hotan airport's security measures and airport security was escalated in Xinjiang. The incident marked the first serious hijacking attempt in China since 1990, and the first fatal hijacking or attempted hijacking since the September 11 attacks.

Background

Hotan is a city with over 360,000 residents, over 97% of them ethnic Uyghur, [2] and is renowned for its Uyghur culture. [3] Ürümqi, over 610 miles (980 km) away, is the comparatively modern capital of the region and holds three million residents. [3] Half the population of Xinjiang as a whole is Uyghur. [4] In September 2011, courts had tried and convicted four people for separatist attacks in Hotan and nearby Kashgar that had killed 32 people. [5] The hijacking took place close to the anniversary of the 5 July 2009 Ürümqi riots which killed 200 people. [2] [6]

Terrorism in China by Uyghur separatists usually features attacks on police stations and civilians; aircraft hijacking is a recent innovation in Uyghur militants' tactics. [3] China has maintained a good aviation safety record, although there has been a history of security threats to aircraft in Xinjiang, mirroring the general violence in the region. Flights from Xinjiang to Afghanistan were grounded in 2008 and 2009 when passengers were discovered to have smuggled explosives on board. [5] [7] The last successful airplane hijacking in China was Xiamen Airlines Flight 8301 on 2 October 1990, where a Hunanese man armed with explosives attempted to defect to Taiwan. [3]

Incident

The Embraer 190 jet was leaving on its daily route from Hotan Airport to Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport at 12:25 pm (04:25 Greenwich Mean Time) with 92 passengers and nine crew. [8] [9] The hijackers, six Uyghur men aged 20–36 from the city of Kashgar, boarded the aircraft normally. [6] [10] Surveillance video showed them feigning disability to bypass airport security; one suspect hid his aluminum pipe weapon inside his crutch. [11] The hijackers donned staff uniforms [8] and split into two parties of three in the front and back of the plane. [7] One of the suspects said they aimed to fly the aircraft out of the country to wage holy war; [11] China has previously raised concerns that Uyghur militants are linking up to their Islamist counterparts in Pakistan. [5]

According to the flight captain, sounds of screaming and fighting emerged from inside the plane at 12:32 pm and 5,700 metres (18,700 ft) above ground. [12] The three hijackers in front were attempting to break down the door to the cockpit, according to the China Daily , injuring a flight attendant who resisted them. [13] Witnesses note that the attackers were armed with the sharp ends of a disassembled aluminum crutch. [6] Simultaneously, the three men in the back brandished metal bars and explosives, beating seated passengers while announcing "whoever stands up will die". [13]

Upon hearing this declaration of intent, Fu Huacheng, a passenger and the minister of education for Lop County, recalled running out of his seat and shouting in Uyghur to his fellow passengers: "Come on! Let's stand up and fight them." [13] Up to six mostly Uyghur plainclothes police responded to Fu's call; [10] [13] microbloggers confirmed witnessing plainclothes policemen removing homemade explosives from the suspects. [3] A group of passengers, led by a local doctor, escorted the elderly and children away from the violence. [11] Some passengers successfully activated the mid-air anti-hijacking contingency plan, which involves pushing a trolley in front of the cockpit door. [12] A passenger interviewed by the Associated Press confirmed that passengers used their belts to restrain the attackers; [6] witnesses to the hijacking posted bloody pictures of the arrests on Sina Weibo. [5]

When the captain heard confirmation from a flight attendant that the events in the cabin were indeed an attempted hijacking and not just a fight, he turned the aircraft back to Hotan. [11] The jet returned safely at Hotan Airport at 12:45 pm. [12] The Civil Aviation Administration of China reported that seven passengers, two security officers, and two flight attendants sustained injuries from the fighting. [14] In addition, two of the hijackers (identified as Ababaykeri Ybelayim and Mametali Yvsup) died from injuries on board; [15] another two of the four detained were taken to the hospital due to self-mutilation. [10]

Aftermath

On its website, the Xinjiang government called the incident 'a serious and violent terrorist attack', [10] while Chinese national media called the hijackers "gangsters" and "scoundrels" but refrained from the "terrorist" label. [3] The separatist World Uyghur Congress reacted to the news by claiming variously that the incident was wholly "fictitious" [16] or that it was simply a dispute between ethnic majority Han and Uyghurs over airline seats. [9] The WUC further issued a statement saying, "We warn China not to use this incident as another excuse for crackdown". [6] U.S.-based Investor's Business Daily (IBD) criticized the WUC's denial of the incident, citing "an awful lot of cell phone photographs of the incident and Chinese witness accounts to suggest a hijack attempt". [17] The IBD suggested that the incident as a whole was not favorable to the Chinese government because "the real story is that the hero is no longer the state, but ordinary Chinese." [17]

On 3 July, the Xinjiang government awarded $16,000 each to 10 passengers who fought the hijackers, to reward their bravery. [18] Also, the whole aircrew of the flight was awarded 500,000 yuan by the Xinjiang government. [19] The flight crewmembers were rewarded 1 million yuan ($157,000) by the CAAC for their bravery. Two security members on board the flight, Du Yuefeng and Xu Yang, and flight attendant Guo Jia, were named heroes by China's civil aviation authorities. [20]

Two days later, 5 July, Xinjiang officials announced new airport security measures, which included the requirement that passengers present hospital-issued certificates before bringing crutches onto an aircraft. [16] Daily flights from Hotan to Ürümqi resumed on 3 July. [13] The Civil Aviation Administration of China reported on 6 July that an investigation found Hotan airport staff not guilty of dereliction of duty. [12]

Three of the surviving terrorists: Musa Yvsup, Arxidikali Yimin, and Eyumer Yimin, were sentenced to death after they pled guilty on Tuesday 11 December 2012. [21] Alem Musa, who also participated in the hijacking attempt but did little compared to the others, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to lifelong imprisonment by Intermediate People's Court in Hotan Prefecture. [15]

Related Research Articles

Aircraft hijacking, or simply hijacking, is the unlawful seizure of an aircraft by an individual or a group. Dating from the earliest of hijackings, most cases involve the pilot being forced to fly according to the hijacker's demands. However, in rare cases, the hijackers have flown the aircraft themselves and used them in suicide attacks; most notably in the September 11 attacks, and in several cases, planes have been hijacked by the official pilot or co-pilot.

Aviation accidents and incidents Aviation occurrence involving serious injury, death, or destruction of aircraft

An aviation accident is defined by the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13 as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft, which takes place from the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until all such persons have disembarked, and in which a) a person is fatally or seriously injured, b) the aircraft sustains significant damage or structural failure, or c) the aircraft goes missing or becomes completely inaccessible. Annex 13 defines an aviation incident as an occurrence, other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft that affects or could affect the safety of operation.

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Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport airport

Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport is an airport serving Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China. It is located in Diwopu township of Xinshi district, 16 km (10 mi) northwest of downtown Ürümqi. A hub for China Southern Airlines and as a focus city for Hainan Airlines, the airport handled 23,027,788 passengers in 2018, making it the 19th busiest airport in China by passenger traffic.

Qantas Flight 1737 attempted hijacking

Qantas (QantasLink) Flight 1737 was an afternoon Australian domestic flight from Melbourne Airport to Launceston Airport, which was subject to an attempted hijacking on 29 May 2003.

Tianjin Airlines airline

Tianjin Airlines is a Chinese airline headquartered in Tianjin Binhai International Airport passenger terminal building, Dongli District, Tianjin, operating domestic scheduled passenger and cargo flights out of Tianjin Binhai International Airport.

1990 Guangzhou Baiyun airport collisions 1990 aircraft collisions at Guangzhou airport

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2008 Uyghur unrest

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The 2011 Hotan attack was a bomb-and-knife attack that occurred in Hotan, Xinjiang, China on July 18, 2011. According to witnesses, the assailants were a group of 18 young Uyghur men who opposed the local government's campaign against the burqa, which had grown popular among older Hotan women in 2009 but were also used in a series of violent crimes. The men occupied a police station on Nuerbage Street at noon, killing two security guards with knives and bombs and taking eight hostages. The attackers then yelled religious slogans, including ones associated with Jihadism, as they replaced the Chinese flag on top of a police station with another flag, the identity of which is disputed.

Events in the year 2012 in China.

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Qiemo Yudu Airport

Qiemo Yudu Airport is an airport that serves Qiemo Town in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. Located roughly 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) northwest of the town, the airport has a 4,500-square-metre (48,000 sq ft) terminal and a runway that measures 2,800 metres (9,200 ft). It replaced another airport serving the town, which has a shorter runway, on 19 December 2016. China Southern Airlines offers flights to Ürümqi via Korla.

References

  1. "GS7554 Flight, Tianjin Airlines, Hotan to Ürümqi". www.flightr.net. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  2. 1 2 Raman, Bahukutumbi (30 June 2012). "China Claims To Have Foiled Hijacking Bid By Uighurs". Eurasia Review. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "China's First Plane Hijacking in 22 Years Foiled". International Business Times. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  4. Bennett, Dashiell (29 June 2012). "Chinese Airline Passengers Foil an Attempted Hijacking". The Atlantic . Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Martina, Michael (29 June 2012). "UPDATE 2-China says hijacking foiled in troubled Xinjiang". Reuters . Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "6 Uighur men arrested for plane hijack in China". Associated Press. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012. The state-run Global Times quoted a regional government spokesperson as saying that the six arrested men are Uighur. The regional government's news portal Tianshannet also identified the suspects, all of whom have Uighur names.[ permanent dead link ]
  7. 1 2 Areddy, James (29 June 2012). "Passengers Foil Hijacking Attempt in China". Washington Post . Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  8. 1 2 Hradecky, Simon (29 June 2012). "Accident: Tianjin E190 near Hotan on Jun 29th 2012, foiled hijack". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  9. 1 2 "China says plane hijack attempt thwarted". Agence France-Presse. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Coonan, Clifford. "Suspected hijackers die following on-board fight". The Irish Times.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Shuangfeng, Zhang (6 July 2012). "Passengers Recount Xinjiang Plane Hijacking". China Radio International . Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Xin, Dingding (7 July 2012). "Hotan airport security staff cleared". China Daily . Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Cui, Jia; Shao, Wei (4 July 2012). "How events unfolded on Flight GS7554". Hotan, Urumqi: China Daily . Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  14. "Group attempts to hijack passenger plane in northwest China". Urumqi. BNO News. 30 June 2012. Archived from the original on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  15. 1 2 "Three Chinese Plane Hijackers Sentenced To Death". NYCAviation.
  16. 1 2 Wong, Edward (5 June 2012). "After Reports of Hijacking Attempt, China Tightens Airport Security". New York Times . Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  17. 1 2 "Chinese Airline Passengers Demonstrate "Let's Roll" To Terrorist Hijackers". Investor's Business Daily. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  18. "Passengers Rewarded for Foiling Plane Attack". Voice of Russia. 3 July 2012. Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  19. "How events unfolded on Flight GS7554-Cover Story-chinadaily.com.cn".
  20. "Hotan airport security staff cleared-Society-chinadaily.com.cn".
  21. "Xinjiang plane hijackers sentenced to death".