Swedish police probe deaths of UN expects in DRC

2017-03-29 20:03
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Copenhagen - Sweden's national police said on Wednesday it has initiated a murder investigation into the death in Democratic Republic of Congo of a Swedish expert for the United Nations, two days after the bodies of the woman and an American colleague were found in a shallow grave.

The brief police statement said police and prosecutors in Sweden were cooperating with the investigation.

It was not immediately clear whether a similar probe had been opened in DRC.

Swedish police declined to comment further.

Sweden's prime minister urged the UN and DRC to investigate after the bodies were found on Monday in a central DRC province that in recent months has seen hundreds killed in violence between security forces and local militia fighters.

Swedish national Zaida Catalan, American Michael Sharp and their interpreter Betu Tshintela went missing March 12 along with driver Isaac Kabuayi and two motorbike drivers in Central Kasai province while looking into large-scale violence and alleged human rights violations by the Congolese army and local militia groups.

Their disappearance was the first time UN experts have been reported missing in DRC, Human Rights Watch has said, and it is the first recorded disappearance of international workers in the Kasai provinces.

Sharp, from western Pennsylvania, and Catalan were "killed senselessly," the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said in a statement.

DRC government spokesperson Lambert Mende late on Tuesday said investigations will continue to seek the missing Congolese colleagues.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said late on Tuesday the world body would conduct an inquiry into what happened to the two experts. He said the cause of their deaths hadn't yet been determined.

Parts of DRC, particularly the east, have experienced insecurity for decades, but violence in the Kasai provinces in central DRC represents a new expansion of tensions.

The Kamwina Nsapu militia has been fighting security forces since last year, with the violence increasing after government troops killed the militia's leader in August. More than 400 people have been killed and more than 200 000 displaced since then, according to the UN.

Read more on:    un  |  antonio guterres  |  drc  |  central africa

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