Wednesday 23 August 2017

Two foreign UN experts kidnapped in DR Congo

Two foreign UN experts kidnapped in DR Congo
(AFP 03/14/17)

Two foreign experts from the United Nations have been kidnapped in the violence-wracked central Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN and Congolese sources said Monday.

"What we can say for now is that two members of our Group of Experts are missing and MONUSCO is looking for them," UN spokesman Farhan Haq said, referring to the UN peacekeeping mission in the troubled central African country.

Haq said one of the victims was American and other Swedish-Chilean.

"They were kidnapped at a bridge over the Moyo river and taken to the forest by unknown assailants," Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP.

Four Congolese nationals -- three motorcycle-taxi drivers and an interpreter -- were also taken hostage, he added.

A government statement said the group was travelling in the Kasai region without the local authorities being informed.

A Uruguayan peacekeeper was shot and injured last week in the same region, which has been wracked by a rebellion since September.

The uprising erupted after government forces in August killed a tribal chief and militia leader, Kamwina Nsapu, who had rebelled against President Joseph Kabila.

The violence has since spilled over to the neighbouring provinces of Kasai-Oriental and Lomami, leaving at least 400 people dead.

The United Nations has nearly 19,000 troops deployed in the DR Congo, its largest and costliest peacekeeping mission.

About 100 of those troops were recently dispatched to the Kasai region.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday 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.

The so-called Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo is made up of six people and provides annual reports on the situation in the country, notably on the movement of illegal arms.

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