1. ITV Report

Bodies of UN experts and interpreter found in Democratic Republic of the Congo

The bodies were found near the Moyo river between Kananga and Tshimbulu. Credit: ITV News

The bodies of two United Nations experts and their interpreter have been found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than two weeks after they disappeared while looking into recent violence in the country.

The bodies of Michael Sharp from the US, Zaida Catalan from Sweden, and Congolese interpreter Betu Tshintela were found near the Moyo river in Central Kasai province on Monday.

Congolese government spokesperson, Lambert Mende, said investigations will continue to find driver Isaac Kabuayi and two motorbike riders who also went missing on March 12.

The group was looking into large-scale violence and alleged human rights violations by the Congolese army and local militia groups.

Congo's police inspector general Charles Bisengimana said the bodies were found between the cities of Tshimbulu and Kananga, the provincial capital.

The confirmation came a day after Mr Sharp's father, John Sharp, wrote on his Facebook page that the bodies of two Caucasians had been found in shallow graves.

"Since no other Caucasians have been reported missing in that region, there is a high probability that these are the bodies of MJ and Zaida," he wrote. "Dental records and DNA samples will be used to confirm the identities. This will take some time.

"All other words fail me."

The case marks the first time UN experts have been reported missing in Congo, Human Rights Watch said, and it is the first recorded disappearance of international workers in the Kasai provinces.

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

The Kamwina Nsapu militia has been fighting security forces since last year, with the violence increasing after troops killed the militia's leader in August.

More than 400 people have been killed and over 200,000 displaced since then, according to the UN.

When asked whether the investigators' disappearance could be a turning point in the UN sending experts to the region, the deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general, Farhan Haq, said: "We hope that we could continue to send experts to do their necessary monitoring activities wherever they need to go.

"Of course, that needs to be undertaken with full respect and understanding of the security condition on the ground."