Thailand says it has sent about 100 ethnic Uighurs back to China, ignoring calls from the international community to protect the group and ensure they were not forced back to China.

Government spokesman Maj. Gen Verachon Sukhonthapatipak told The Associated Press that the group was put on a flight from a military airport outside Bangkok on Thursday morning.

He said they were put through a national verification process and "only had documents saying they were Chinese."

He said the Thai and Chinese security agencies discussed the issue and the Chinese ensured "their safety is guaranteed."

The Uighurs are a Muslim ethnic minority in China's far west Xinjiang region. The group has complained of cultural and religious suppression as well as economic marginalization under Chinese rule.