UN experts found dead in DR Congo

Indo Asian News Service

Kinshasa, March 29 (IANS) Two UN experts who were missing in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been found dead, officials said.

The bodies of US citizen Michael Sharp and Swedish national Zaida Catalan were discovered in the central Kasai region, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

They were abducted two weeks ago when they went to Kasai to investigate reports of abuses after local rebels took up arms, reported BBC on Wednesday.

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

In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the two UN officials "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.

Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said the bodies were found in a shallow grave, adding that "the woman was found beheaded, but the body of the man was intact".

Earlier, Mende said that two bodies "of Caucasian or European type" had been discovered on the road linking Bukonde to Tshimbulu in central Kasai.

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 said.

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

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 Kabila, according to the report.