August 21, 2008

Hong Kong Centre Says China Arrests Two for Attempt to Attack Army Airport

Text of report by Hong Kong Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy on 21 August

[ICHRD: "Military Airport in Qingdao Attacked, Assailants Said to be Attempting to Seize An Aircraft and Crash It into An Olympic Venue]

21 Aug 2008 - Our centre has learned that the Cangkou Airport, a military airport in Qingdao, was attacked by two suspects carrying explosives on the morning of 17 August. The assailants tried unsuccessfully to snatch the gun of an airport guard. One military personnel was wounded. Two suspects were arrested on 19 August after an emergency order was issued. However, it is reckoned that other accomplices, whose identities the police do not yet know, are still at large in Qingdao. Since this is the airport from where planes are dispatched daily to monitor the algal drift in the Olympic venues, the suspects could have been trying to sneak into the airport and capture or hijack a plane, fly to the competition venues, and crash the plane into the Olympic village or among the competing teams.

An informed source told us that the incident occurred on the morning of 17 August. A military officer stationed at Cangkou Airport in Qingdao's Licang district was suddenly attacked by two suspects near the airport. The assailants tried to overpower him and snatch his gun. The officer fought back. The two suspects fled without succeeding in their attempt, leaving some explosives behind. The authorities took emergency action by blocking all access roads. They subsequently found some information regarding the suspects and posted orders for their arrest in Licang and the surrounding areas. The two were arrested on 19 August. However, the police reckoned that there are still unidentified accomplices hiding in Qingdao. The Qingdao police are making a hot pursuit. The police order for their arrest pointed out that the two were ethnic Yi people from Meigu county, Sichuan.

In addition to military helicopters and training planes, China Marine Surveillance planes charged with the task of the daily monitoring of algal drift are also parked at the Cangkou Airport.

A teacher named Liu from the Qingdao campus of the Naval Aeronautical Engineering Institute and a restaurant owner named Guo who runs a restaurant outside the airport confirmed the gun- snatching attack against the military officer to us. The public security subbureau of Licang district refused to comment on whether or not other accomplices were arrested today.

The incident revealed a serious security loophole in Qingdao. If the two terrorists succeeded in subduing the military officer, one of them could have put on the military uniform, walk up to a China Marine Surveillance plane with gun and explosives, knock the pilot unconscious, and fly the plane to the Olympic venues. He could have gone to the Olympic village or venues with the Air Force completely off guard.

According to Chinese Internet sources, large numbers of ethnic Yi people have served in the China Air Force. There is no way of knowing at present whether or not there are ex-Air Force personnel who can fly planes among the ones arrested or being pursued.

Originally published by Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Hong Kong, in Chinese 21 Aug 08.

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