News stories from around the world
RUSSIA: Prosecutors said today they would charge members of a reclusive sect with child abuse after discovering 27 children who were kept all their lives in dark cells underground.
Faizrakhman Satarov declared himself a prophet and his house in Tatarstan “an independent Islamic state.” His followers dug eight storeys underground in which their children were raised.
Health officials said some of the children had never seen the sun.
Officials said Mr Satarov’s house will be demolished, though his followers have vowed to lay down their lives in its defence.
BELARUS: The Foreign Ministry withdrew all its embassy staff from Sweden today.
Relations between the countries have soured since a Swedish company last month dropped 800 teddy bears from an aeroplane bearing “pro-human rights” messages on Belarus.
Minsk has since fired its air defence chief and head of border security.
The latest withdrawal follows the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador last Friday.
UNITED STATES: Security contractor Academi LLC — formerly Blackwater — agreed to pay a $7.5 million (£4.7m) fine on Tuesday to settle 17 criminal charges.
The company — which won massive no-bid security contracts from the Bush administration after the Iraq war — faced accusations of possessing unregistered weapons, lying to firearms regulators, smuggling body armour and passing military secrets to Denmark and Sweden.
JAMAICA: Rap reggae pioneer Ranking Trevor died in a motorbike accident on Tuesday, his brother Robert Grant has confirmed.
Mr Trevor was a leading “toasting” singer — a style which inspired hip hop — in the 1970s and lived in Britain for over 20 years, releasing such hits as Caveman Skank and Three-piece Chicken and Chips.
AUSTRALIA: A Queensland tribunal ruled today that a motel’s refusal to rent a room to a prostitute was discriminatory.
The Drovers Rest Motel said it might appeal and confirmed that the plaintiff was seeking damages of 30,000 Australian dollars (£20,000).
Scarlet Alliance Australian Sex Workers Association chief executive Janelle Fawkes said: “Accommodation discrimination is a major issue for sex workers. We believe it is a big win for sex workers throughout Australia.”
AFGHANISTAN: Three Nato soldiers and a civilian were killed in a suicide bombing in the country’s east today.
The Taliban said it was responsible for the attack in Kunar province, although its account of the bombing differed from Nato’s — the latter claimed that two bombers struck on foot while the Taliban said car bombers had killed a combined 17 soldiers.
PAKISTAN: The Supreme Court summoned Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf today to appear before it on August 27.
Mr Ashraf will be asked to explain why he has not complied with its instructions to investigate corruption allegations against President Asif Ali Zardari.
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