Prosecutors in Russia have brought child abuse charges against members of a reclusive Islamic sect who kept 27 children in underground cells for over ten years.

The sect's 83-year-old founder has also been charged with negligence.

70 members of the sect had been living in the underground bunker for nearly a decade.

Many of the children were born underground and had never seen daylight until prosecutors discovered their dwelling on 1 August in the outskirts of Kazan city.

A 17-year-old girl turned out to be pregnant after health checks were carried out on the group.

Religion was suppressed in the Soviet Union which collapsed in 1991, prompting various cults and sects to flourish in the vacuum that opened up.

The group - known as the "Fayzarahmanist" sect - was named after organiser Fayzrahman Satarov.

He declared himself a prophet and his house an independent Islamic state, according to a report by state TV channel Vesti.

Mr Satarov was described as a former deputy to a Sunni Islamic cleric in the 1970s.

His followers were encouraged to read his manuscripts and most were banned from leaving their eight-storey underground bunker which had been dug in the basement of a building, Vesti said.

Kazan is located 800km east of Moscow in Tatarstan, a majority Muslim internal Russian republic.