Passengers and crew foiled a hijacking attempt by six people on a plane in China’s restive far-western Xinjiang region on Friday, a regional airline and state media said.

The attempt was made just after the plane took off from Hotan in southern Xinjiang for the regional capital of Urumqi and the six suspects were detained after the plane returned safely, the Tianshan regional government’s news portal said.

Tianshan’s report did not detail how the hijacking was foiled or the suspects’ motive or ethnicity.

The government says China faces an organised terrorist threat from radical Muslim groups in the region. Xinjiang is home to around nine million Uighurs, many of whom complain of religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities.

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