International Briefs

MPs face charges

LONDON: British prosecutors announced criminal charges on Friday against four lawmakers over alleged abuse of parliamentary expenses. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said charges of false accounting would be brought against three members of the elected House of Commons (MPs) and one member of the unelected upper House of Lords. “In four cases, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges and that it is in the public interest to charge the individuals concerned,” he said. The three MPs are from the Labour Party, while the House of Lords member is a member of the opposition Conservative Party.

10 killed in Chechnya

MOSCOW: Five members of the security forces have been killed and seven wounded in Chechnya, an official said on Friday, as clashes with militants undercut Russia’s claims of renewed stability in the North Caucasus. The troops clashed with militants in Chechnya’s mountains during a skirmish that started on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the local investigative committee told AFP. “According to preliminary information, five members of the security forces were killed and seven wounded,” the spokeswoman Maryam Nalayeva said. In addition, “five militants were killed in the clash,” she said.

Lanka offensive

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police and troops began a crackdown on Friday against thousands of military deserters after a large number failed to heed a surrender call, military officials said. Some 1,400 soldiers who were absent without leave turned up at military camps on Thursday to take advantage of an amnesty declared to coincide with Sri Lanka’s national holiday marking the island’s 1948 independence. But thousands more were still listed as deserters, a military official said. “From today (Friday), the army and the police will step up search operations to arrest deserters,” the official said.