A Chinese consul in Thailand says dozens of refugees in custody of the Thai government are minority Uighurs from China's restive northwest and should be repatriated.

Qin Jian, the consul in Songkhla, said Friday that the entire group of more than 200 refugees detained in Thailand earlier this year are believed to be Uighurs, although the refugees claim to be Turkish and refuse to cooperate with Chinese authorities on proper identification.

They are apparently fearful of being mistreated in China if they are returned.

Ethnic tensions between Uighurs and the majority Han Chinese have left about 400 people dead in the past 20 months.