Fears grow for security at Beijing Games after hijack plot

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The Independent Online

Chinese police broke up a terror plot targeting the Beijing Olympics, and a flight crew foiled an apparent attempt to crash a Chinese passenger plane, officials said yesterday.

Nur Bekri, the governor of the far western province of Xinjiang, said there was an attempt to crash a China Southern Airlines flight from the regional capital, Urumqi, to Beijing on Friday morning. He said the plane made an emergency landing in the western city of Lanzhou with no damage or injuries, and continued to Beijing after about one hour.

"From what we presently know, this was an attempt to crash the plane," Mr Bekri said. He did not confirm reports that inflammable material was found in the plane's toilet and that two passengers were arrested.

And Wang Lequan, the province's top Communist Party official, said materials seized in a raid in Urumqi on 27 January suggested a plot "specifically to sabotage the staging of the Beijing Olympics". Two people were reported to have been killed and 15 arrested in the raid.

Last week, a would-be bomber was shot dead when he took 10 Australian travel agents hostage in Xi'an, the home of the famous Terracotta Warriors, and the incidents may give greater force to China's arguments that extreme measures are necessary to ensure security at the Beijing Olympics in August.

China says its main terror threat comes from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, an Islamic separatist group in Xinjiang. East Turkestan is another name for the province. AP