BEIJING - PASSENGERS carrying suspicious liquids on board a Chinese airliner were involved in what officials have called an attempted terror attack last week, the national aviation authority said.
A government official from the Muslim-dominated region of Xinjiang in China's northwest had said the flight crew had foiled Friday's alleged attempt to deliberately crash a plane flying from the region's capital of Urumqi to Beijing.
But on Monday, the General Administration of Civil Aviation said in a statement on its website that 'China Southern Airlines flight CZ6901 from Urumqi to Beijing discovered some passengers were in possession of suspicious liquids.
'To safeguard passenger safety, the plane was diverted to Lanzhou's Zhongchuan Airport.'
The statement said the plane later arrived safely in Beijing. No other details were given.
Shanghai's Oriental Morning Post reported that the substances in question were believed to have been flammable.
'According to sources, flammable substances were found in the toilet of the plane. At least two passengers have been detained for questioning,' it said, without specifying its sources.
Mr Nur Bekri, the chairman of the Xinjiang regional government who spoke on Sunday, told reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of congress that the flight diverted to Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, because 'some people were attempting to create an air disaster'.
The crew stopped the would-be attackers, and all passengers and crew were safe, he added. The plane arrived in Beijing on Saturday morning.
Mr Nur offered no other details, saying an investigation was ongoing.
'But we can be sure that this was a case intending to create an air crash,' he said.
An official with the Xinjiang regional government said an unspecified number of suspects were held in Lanzhou, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Separately, Mr Wang Lequan, Xinjiang's Communist Party chief, said on Sunday that authorities in the region on Jan 27 had foiled a terrorist plot aimed at the Beijing Olympics, killing two militants and arresting 15 others. -- AFP