U.S., Swedish Members of UN Panel Kidnapped in Central Congo

  • Abductions occurred Sunday in central province, minister says
  • Violence in area has left hundreds dead in past six months

A U.S. citizen and a Swede working as United Nations researchers were abducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said.

The two members of a UN 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.

Congolese security forces and the UN mission in Congo are working to identify the assailants and obtain the release of those abducted, he said. UN mission spokesman Felix Prosper Basse didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment.

Fighting between security forces and militiamen has claimed hundreds of lives in Kasai-Central in the past six months. While the UN has more than 19,000 peacekeepers in Congo, their presence is limited in the country’s center, with the majority deployed in the restive east.

The UN panel of experts, which conducts research across the country, reports directly to the Security Council.

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