Missing MH370: Uighur passenger came for art exhibition

BEIJING - Friends and family members of Maimaitijang Abula, a passenger of Uighur descent who was on board MH370, say that he was in Malaysia solely for an art exhibition.

This followed reports that the police were centring their probe on him.

On Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, @korbanjan shared photos of Maimaitijang, 35, receiving a Hibiscus Award at Malaysian Chinese Assembly Hall in conjunction with the exhibition.

"These are the photos and information shared by my buddy Maimaitijang Abula in our chat group on March 4. May Allah bless his safety," the user wrote.

A family member told the media on Wednesday afternoon that the family had been trying to call his mobile phones but to no avail.

"We have been dialling both his numbers since March 8," he said.

His elder brother and wife were among those who rushed to Lido Hotel here, where families of the Chinese families have grouped.

The family has not decided if they want to fly to Kuala Lumpur to be nearer the command centre.

According to Chinese media reports, Maimaitijang hails from Qeshqer, Xinjiang, and is a member of the Xinjiang Artists Association.

It was reported in Malaysia that he held a PHD from a university in Britain and recently worked as a lecturer at a university in Turkey.

The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group living in the Xinjiang Auto­nomous Region in China.

A separatist group from there was recently blamed for the slaying of at least 29 people at the Kunming railway station on March 1.