It has been confirmed that the two Caucasian bodies found in shallow graves in the Democratic Republic of Congo's restive Kasaï Central province belong to two missing United Nations experts.

American Michael Sharp, 34, and Swede Zaida Catalan, 36, were investigating human rights violations in the DRC for the UN and had been missing since the 12 March.

The body of their Congolese interpreter, Betu Tshintela, was discovered in the same location. Their three Congolese colleagues, driver Isaac Kabuayi, and two unidentified motorbike drivers are still missing.

The two experts, along with four Congolese colleagues, were travelling in Kasaï after they were instructed by the UN Security Council to investigate reports of human rights violations committed by Congolese security forces against civilians in the south-central province.

Kasaï, in the heart of the DRC, has been plagued by violence between the Congolese security forces and a local militia, Kamuina Nsapu. Kamuina Nsapu are seeking to avenge the August 2016 death of their leader, Kamuina Nsapu.

In addition to footage allegedly showing extra-judicial executions of civilians by soldiers, the UN has condemned the recent discovery of ten mass graves, containing victims of alleged killings by Congolese soldiers in Kasaï. Activists claim the government "should be held accountable" for these deaths.

Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp
United Nations investigators Zaida Catalan (L) and Michael Sharp (R) were kidnapped by unidentified men as they investigated reports of human rights violation in Kasai Central province, DRC Human Rights Watch