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China flight crew rewarded for foiling hijackers

A Chinese airline awarded cash and apartments worth millions of dollars to a nine-member crew that foiled a hijack attempt last month, state media reported.

Six Uighur men were arrested for the alleged attempt in China's far west region of Xinjiang on June 29. Two later died from injuries sustained while fighting the crew and passengers. An overseas rights group says the incident was a brawl over a seat dispute, not a hijacking attempt.

Xinjiang is home to a large population of minority Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurs), but is ruled by China's ethnic majority Hans. Clashes are common between authorities and Uighurs resentful of government controls over their religion and culture.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported late Monday that Hainan Airlines, the parent company of the flight operator, awarded the chief flight attendant and two security guards 1 million yuan ($159,000) in cash, an apartment worth 3 million yuan ($477,000) and a car. The other six members each received 500,000 yuan ($79,500) in cash, a 2 million yuan ($318,000) apartment and a car, Xinhua reported.

All 22 passengers on the flight will receive free lifetime airfare from the airline, Xinhua said.

Earlier this month, the Civil Aviation Administration of China awarded 1 million yuan ($159,000) to the entire crew. Xinjiang's regional government awarded 500,000 yuan ($79,500) to be divided among the whole crew, and 100,000 yuan ($15,900) each for 10 crew members and passengers.

The government of south China's Hainan province - where the airline is headquartered - awarded 500,000 yuan ($79,500) to be split among the crew, and 100,000 yuan ($15,900) each to the two security guards, Chinese media reported.