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China sentences 3 to death, 1 to life in prison in alleged hijack attempt in restive northwest

China has sentenced three men to death and another to life in prison over an alleged hijacking attempt in June in the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang.

The official Xinhua News Agency says the sentencing occurred Tuesday. It gave no details.

Six men from the Muslim Uighur ethnic group were arrested for the alleged attempt 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 Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurs), but is ruled by China's ethnic majority Hans. Clashes are common between authorities and Uighurs resentful of large-scale Han migration and heavy-handed government controls.