BEIJING - Chinese airline passengers helped foil on Friday an attempt to hijack a plane in the western region of Xinjiang, state media said, the latest incident of instability in a part of China where the government says its is facing violent separatists.

Passengers and air crew subdued six people who attempted to hijack a flight 10 minutes after it took off from an airport in Hotan, an ethnic Uighur area that has been hit by recent bouts of violence, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Tianjin Airlines plane was flying from Hotan to the regional capital Urumqi when the attackers were overpowered, Xinhua said, citing police.

The aircraft returned to Hotan where six people were taken into custody, it said without giving further details. Calls to Xinjiang regional government and police offices went unanswered.

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