BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities have returned three Chinese citizens to Chinese authorities after detaining them last week for crossing the border illegally.
The commander of a Kyrgyz border guard unit in the northeastern city of Karakol, Ruslan Zakirov, told RFE/RL that the three men -- two ethnic Kyrgyz and an Uyghur -- had been returned to China on January 11 on the basis of a local court's ruling.
Kyrgyz border guards detained the men on January 7. They had no identification documents but said they were natives of Kyzyl-Su Kyrgyz prefecture in China's Xinjiang region.
Last January, eleven men from Xinjiang who were armed with knives killed a Kyrgyz forest ranger after crossing the border and were later killed by Kyrgyz security forces.
Along with Uyghurs, Xinjiang has indigenous populations of ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Tajiks who live mainly in districts bordering those three Central Asian countries.
China has cracked down on Muslim Uyghurs in recent years.