Kasai unrest: Bodies found in hunt for UN Congo experts

A boy walks past the ruins of the destroyed house of customary chief Kamuina Nsapu, whose death last August sparked months of deadly fighting between the government army and Kamuina Nsapu"s militia in Tshimbulu near Kananga, the capital of Kasai-central province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 11, 2017.Image copyright

Image caption

There have been months of unrest in Kasai, after a local chief started a rebellion

Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo believe they have located the bodies of two UN investigators who went missing in the country.

The remains were found in an area where US citizen Michael Sharp and Swedish national Zaida Catalan were abducted by “negative forces” two weeks ago.

The bodies are of a white man and woman.

There has been a wave of unrest in the Kasai region, where 40 police officers were found beheaded at the weekend.

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The UN experts were in the country to monitor a sanctions regime imposed on DR Congo but were investigating reports of abuses in Kasai.

Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende confirmed reports of the discovery to the BBC.

“Two bodies of Caucasian or European type have been discovered on the road linking Bukonde to Tshimbulu in Central Kasai,” Mr Mende said.

“As far as I know, no other white individuals are missing here.”

However, he cautioned that DNA tests were needed to dispel any doubt about the bodies.

‘Words fail me’

Michael Sharp and Zaida 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 Kamuina Nsapu, who was leading an uprising against President Joseph Kabila.

John Sharp, Michael’s father expressed his heartbreak on Facebook.

“This is a message I hoped never to write… There is a high probability that these are the bodies of MJ and Zaida,” Mr Sharp wrote.

“All other words fail me.”

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