70 Hidden Muslim Found Living Underground in Russia

Seventy members of an Islamist sect who have been living in an underground bunker without heat or sunlight for nearly a decade have been discovered living on the outskirts of the city of Kazan in Russia.

A reclusive sect that literally went underground to stop contact with the outside world kept 27 children in dark and unheated cells, many of them for more than a decade, prosecutors said Wednesday. The children have been freed and the parents charged with child abuse.

Some of the children, aged between 1 and 17, have never seen daylight, health officials said. The sect’s 83-year-old founder Faizrakhman Satarov, who declared himself a Muslim prophet in contradiction with the principles of Islam, has also been charged with negligence, Irina Petrova, deputy prosecutor in the provincial capital of Kazan, told The Associated Press.

No members of the sect, who call themselves “muammin” after the Arabic term that means “believers,” have been arrested, she said.

The children were discovered last week when police searched the sect grounds as part of a probe into the recent killing of a top Tatarstan Muslim cleric, an attack local officials blame on radical Islamist groups that have mushroomed in the oil-rich, Volga River province.

Members of an underground sect in Russia’s Volga River province of Tatarstan province stand at the gate of a house outside the provincial capital, Kazan (AP)