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2 U.N. workers found dead in Democratic Republic of Congo

They were last seen alive on March 12, investigating human rights abuses near the city of Kananga.

By Ed Adamczyk
2 U.N. workers found dead in Democratic Republic of Congo
The bodies of United Nations workers, found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, were confirmed to be those of Zaida Catalan, left, and Michael Sharp, who were reported missing on March 12. Photos courtesy of Human Rights Watch/Twitter

March 29 (UPI) -- The United Nations confirmed the remains of two bodies found in the Democratic Republic of Congo were those of two U.N. workers missing since earlier in the month.

Michael Sharp, of the United States, and Zaida Catalan, of Sweden, working with the U.N. mission to the DRC, were last seen investigating human rights abuses in the remote village of Bunkonde on March 12. They were part of a mission known as the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo, responsible for monitoring insurgent groups in the eastern part of the country.

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The Congolese government announced on March 13 that the two had "fallen into the hands of unidentified negative forces," without elaborating. The activist organization Human Rights Watch said it the first time U.N. workers were reported missing in the country.

The bodies of Sharp and Catalan were found Monday, outside the provincial city of Kananga. No information was released regarding their driver, interpreter and two motorbike operators last seen with Sharp and Catalan.

"I trust that the Congolese authorities will conduct a full investigation into this incident. The United Nations will also conduct an inquiry. In case of criminal acts, the United Nations will do everything possible to ensure that justice is done. I urge the Congolese authorities to continue the search for the four Congolese nationals who accompanied our colleagues. The United Nations will cooperate with the authorities in the continuing search," said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement on Tuesday.

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