United Nations says peacekeepers searching for two missing officials in Congo

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United Nations says peacekeepers searching for two missing officials in Congo

Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say two United Nations officials, one American and one Swedish, have been kidnapped along with four Congolese in Kasai Central province.

The Congolese government said Michael Sharp, a US citizen, and Zaida Catalan, of Swedish nationality, had "fallen into the hands of negative forces not yet identified", along with four Congolese near the village of Ngombe.

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

"The administrative and security services are working.in concert with Monusco (the United Nations mission) to obtain the liberation of the kidnapped persons", the statement, signed by Information Minister Lambert Mende, said. They said the kidnappers have not yet been identified.

Charles-Antoine Bambara, spokesman for the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission, said on Monday the two went missing on Sunday.

The two members of a United Nations panel of experts that monitors sanctions on Congo were seized along with four Congolese citizens on Sunday in Kasai-Central province, government spokesman Lambert Mende said by phone from the capital, Kinshasa.

Fighting between security forces and militiamen has claimed hundreds of lives in Kasai-Central in the past six months.

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

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

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