Phnom Penh: Cambodia is expelling 20 Chinese Muslim Uighurs who sought refuge there after July unrest in northwest China`s Xinjiang region, a foreign ministry spokesman told a news agency on Saturday.
"We have decided that they are illegal immigrants because they entered Cambodia without any visa papers," said ministry spokesman Koy Kuong.
"They are illegal immigrants and according to Cambodian immigration law they should be expelled from the country. So we must expel them," he said, refusing to say when the group would be deported or what their destination would be.
The group arrived at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office after clashes between Xinjiang`s Uighurs and China`s majority Han ethnic group left 197 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, officials said.
The group`s presence in Phnom Penh was made public two weeks ago as they sought UN refugee status in Cambodia, saying they risked torture at home in China.
Rights groups and the US government have urged Cambodia not to deport them to China, saying they would face possible persecution there.