A 19-year-old Uygur woman has confessed to police that she attempted to blow up a China Southern passenger plane on March 7, the Ministry of Public Security said yesterday.
The suspect, Guzalinur Turdi, boarded the plane from Urumqi to Beijing after passing through airport security checks and tried to go ahead with the terrorist attack before it was thwarted.
"She has fully confessed to the accusations," the ministry said in a statement disclosing the latest investigation results.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang yesterday rejected some Western media's skepticism over the confession.
"Was this confession coerced in any way through the use of torture or any other means? Was her confession coerced?" asked an AFP reporter at a regular news briefing.
"Relevant departments in China have dealt with this case based on the law, so I don't know why you'd raise this question," Qin said.
"There are many crimes around the world, many crimes in the US and France. Will you also ask them if they use torture to get confessions?" he asked.
Wang Lequan, the Party chief of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, told the Xinhua News Agency last week that investigations had found that the incident was masterminded by Eastern Turkestan separatists from abroad.
He said a man was detained along with Turdi on board the flight; and a third suspect, held a week later, admitted that he had masterminded, instigated and helped carry out the attempted crime.
Flight CZ6901 left Urumqi at 10:35 am on March 7 and made an emergency landing in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, two hours later. All the passengers and crew were safe and arrived in Beijing the next morning.
"Investigations showed that the incident was an organized and premeditated terrorist attack targeting the aircraft," the ministry statement said, adding that the case continues to be under investigation.
"We are fully prepared for security threats from any side and completely capable of foiling any terrorist attack," it said.
According to earlier reports, the airline plot was thwarted by air marshals on the flight.
Sources at the airline said that crew members smelled gasoline on Turdi as she left a toilet during the flight. They found a beverage can containing flammable liquid in a dustbin in the toilet. The drink had been replaced with the flammable liquid, using a syringe.
A week after the incident, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) issued a notice banning domestic air passengers from carrying liquids as part of tighter security measures.
Starting two days ago, passengers are also required to take off their shoes for safety checks.
From May, the CAAC has also ordered international airlines to provide accurate and complete passenger and cabin staff information to Chinese border control stations before landing.
The information should include name, nationality, gender, birth date and passport number and passport expiry date", the CAAC said in a notice posted on its website (www.caac.gov.cn).
(China Daily, March 28, 2008)