style[amp-boilerplate] Kasai unrest: UN experts found dead in DR Congo

Kasai unrest: UN experts found dead in DR Congo

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Two UN experts who were missing in the Democratic Republic of Congo

have been found dead, officials say.

The bodies of US citizen Michael Sharp and Swedish national Zaida

Catalan were discovered in the central Kasai region, a government

spokesman said.

They were abducted two weeks ago after going to Kasai to investigate

reports of abuses after local rebels took up arms.

Some 40 police officers were found beheaded in the region at the weekend.

Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende confirmed reports of the

discovery to the BBC.

Mr Mende said that the bodies were found in a shallow grave, adding

that "the woman was found beheaded, but the body of the man was


In a statement from UN headquarters in UN, Secretary-General Antonio

Guterres said they "lost their lives seeking to understand the causes

of conflict and insecurity'' in DR Congo.

"The United Nations will do everything possible to ensure that justice

is done," he added.

Earlier, Mr Mende said that two bodies "of Caucasian or European type"

had been discovered on the road linking Bukonde to Tshimbulu in

Central Kasai.

"As far as I know, no other white individuals are missing here," Mr Mende said.

He later told reporters that a police commissioner had returned from

Kasai with confirmation of their identities.

"According to a witness, they were ambushed by the famous

traditionalist Kamwina Nsapu militia, who behead their victims," he


A third body found in the same location was that of their interpreter,

Betu Tshintela.

'Words fail me'

Mr Sharp and Ms Catalan were taken, along with four Congolese support

staff, into the forest near the village of Ngombe in Kasai.

The Congolese government is fighting a rebel group which operates in

the area and is believed to have kidnapped the experts.

The violence in Kasai was sparked by the killing of traditional leader

Kamwina Nsapu, who was leading an uprising against President Joseph


Before Mr Mende announced the bodies had been identified, John Sharp,

Michael's father, expressed his heartbreak on Facebook.

"This is a message I hoped never to write... Dental records and DNA

samples will be used to confirm the identities," Mr Sharp wrote.

"All other words fail me."

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