[DRC]–Two United Nations agents on a peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been kidnapped, alongside four others.
Charles-Antoine Bambara, spokesman for the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission, said on Monday the two went missing on Sunday.
In a statement, the government of DRC has identified the victims as Michael Sharp, an American, and Zaida Catalan, a Swede, though UN records lists Catalan as Chilean.
According to the statement, the UN workers have “fallen into the hands of negative forces not yet identified” near the village of Ngombe in the central Kasai region along with four Congolese nationals, including three motorcycle-taxi drivers and an interpreters.
Sharp and Catalan were among a UN panel of experts sent to investigate conflicts in the DRC, which have been in existence since the civil war of the 1990s.
The trend of peacekeepers being attacked in the region is not a novel phenomenon.
A Uruguayan peacekeeper was shot down last week in the same region, facing a strong siege of rebels since September.
The killing of Kamwina Nsapu, a tribal chief who had rebelled against President Joseph Kabila, by government officials in August led to the uprising in the area.
Since then, the unrest has spread to neighbouring provinces of Kasai-Oriental and Lomami, causing the death of at least 400 people.
To tackle the problem, the UN has deployed 19,000 troops to the DRC, making it UN’s most high-profile and expensive peacekeeping mission.
According to Al Jazeera, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked the Security Council to send an extra 320 UN police to the country after a deal to end a dispute over the presidential election stalled.
Congolese and UN officials said efforts to locate the victims were under way.
Sharp’s father, John Sharp, a professor at Hesston College has expressed optimism.
“We’re hopeful,” John Sharp said. “The U.N. has been good about staying in touch with us. M.J. is resourceful. He’s smart. He knows the culture, knows the games. If anybody can get out, he will.”Please Follow Us @ThePageNg