BANGKOK – Thailand says it suspects a group of about 200 people rescued from a human trafficking camp are ethnic Uighur Muslims, as calls mounted from the international community to protect the group and ensure they are not forced back to China.
Immigration police chief Lt. Gen. Panu Kerdlarppol said Saturday that authorities were struggling to determine the group's nationality but he believed they are "likely Uighurs."
Thai police discovered the group on Wednesday at a secluded jungle camp in southern Songkhla province.
It includes 78 men, 60 women and 82 children,
Uighurs come from China's western region of Xinjiang, home to a simmering insurgency.
The U.S. State Department called on Thailand to protect the group, while Human Rights Watch urged Thailand not to send them back to China.