Two of six suspected hijackers have died following a botched attempt to commandeer a flight from Hotan to Urumqi in China's far west Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Friday, local authorities confirmed to the Global Times.
The two died in hospital from injuries received in a fight with passengers and crew during the attempted hijacking of a Tianjin Airlines' flight.
Two other suspects, who reportedly mutilated themselves, are being treated in hotpisal in Hotan, said the region's press office.
The six hijackers, who ranged in age from 20 to 36, are from the city of Kashi, Hou Hanmin, a spokesperson for the region's press office, told the Global Times.
The men were quickly subdued as they tried to break into the airplane's cockpit with a crutch, and their attempt to ignite explosives was foiled, witnesses told the Global Times.
The flight had 92 passengers and nine crew members onboard, 10 of whom were injured.
A local official handling the case say only six police officers were on the passenger list.
Four of the officers were from Luopu county and two other were from Hotan.
"Nearly all the officers are Uyghur people, who took fast action after distracting the hijackers," the official told the Global Times.
A number of officials confirmed with the Global Times that explosives had been brought onboard and that passengers managed to defuse them before they could be detonated.
How the hijackers managed to smuggle explosives and a crutch past security checks is under investigation, officials said. "Whether it is negligence has yet to be determined," an official told the Global Times.
A Tencent microblog user by the named "luotuo" said his friend who was onboard helped resolve the crisis.
"My friend tied the hijacker up with his leather pants belt," he told the Global Times.
After the incident, the Civil Aviation Administration of China immediately asked airports in some major cities and provincial capitals to upgrade their security checks for flights bound for Xinjiang.
According to news portal ifeng.com, this high-alert level is usually applied before and after some key festivals such as National Day.
However, the Global Times reporter in Xinjiang did not notice a conspicuous tightening of security at the region's main airports.
Calls from the Global Times to Xinjiang Airport Group Co, which manages 16 airports in the region, were left unanswered yesterday.
Starting from Saturday, Shanghai's two airports - Hongqiao and Pudong - have tightened security that had required passengers to take off their shoes and unfasten their pants belt, Shanghai Airport Authority said yesterday.