Chinese court jails woman for bomb hoax on Xinjiang-bound plane

BEIJING Wed Jan 9, 2013 3:41pm GMT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court jailed a woman for three years and two months for falsely claiming she would detonate a bomb on a plane flying to Urumqi, the restive capital of Xinjiang region near the Central Asian border, Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old woman, was found guilty of a terrorist hoax and forging an identity card, after she passed a note to fellow passengers on an October 13, 2011 flight claiming she had the explosive material TNT on the plane, Xinhua said.

Urumqi, on the border with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Russia, is home to the ethnically distinct Uighurs who often chafe under Chinese rule. Muslim hardliners there want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.

China has blamed "terrorists" for alleged bombing or hijacking threats on Xinjiang flights in the past, while Uighur activists have said the suspects were unfairly accused after unrelated disputes with airline crews or fellow passengers.

In the 2011 case, the plane made an emergency landing after the woman, whose surname is Wang, threatened to detonate a bomb. She tried to commit suicide while crew members struggled to restrain her, Xinhua said, citing a Beijing court.

Police found no dangerous items on board.

Xinhua said Wang was diagnosed with hysteria and deemed to have limited criminal responsibility, thereby earning a light sentence. It did not elaborate on her motive.

No one at the court was immediately reachable for comment.

Reports at the time said the China United Airlines flight, carrying 160 passengers and 10 crew, landed for six hours at the Jiayuguan airport in Gansu province, which borders Xinjiang.

Xinhua did not give Wang's ethnicity but the name is common among China's majority Han population. Earlier reports had said she was from the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing and was going to visit her boyfriend in Urumqi. (Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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