In a statement issued in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has confirmed that the remains of the two investigators for the United Nations have been found in Congo and an inquiry would be conducted.
Villagers in the Democratic Republic of Congo discovered the remains of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan and their Congolese interpreter who went missing earlier in the month in the area between Bukonde and Tshimbulu in Kasai Central province while investigating human rights violations, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.
Government spokesman, Communications Minister Lambert Mende said one of the bodies, that of the woman, had been beheaded.
The confirmation comes a day after Sharp’s father, John Sharp, wrote on his Facebook page that the bodies of two Caucasians had been found in shallow graves in the search area, saying there was a high probability the dead were his son and his son’s colleague.
The officials had been in a group of experts monitoring a sanctions regime imposed on Congo by the UN Security Council when they disappeared in Kasai Central province.
Police informed the authorities in the capital Kinshasa on Monday and a team including the provincial police commissioner was sent to the scene to identify the bodies.
Guterres said the United Nations would cooperate with Congolese authorities in searching for the four Congolese nationals who accompanied the UN officials.
The disappearance is the first time UN experts have been reported missing in DRC, Human Rights Watch said.
The region where the bodies were found, Kasai Central region is the epicenter of the Kamwina Nsapu insurgency which is currently opposing the Presidency of Joseph Kabila.
The region has seen increasing violence between the Kamwina Nsapu militia and security forces since the traditional chief heading the militia, who wanted state presence removed from his chiefdom, was killed in fighting in August 2016.
Kamwina Nsapu militants pose an increasingly serious threat to President Joseph Kabila, whose decision to stay on beyond the end of his elected mandate last December has caused unrest in the loosely governed Central African country.