Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Congo Government Shows Execution Footage of Two UN Investigators

  • The U.S. and Swedish nationals went missing on March 12
  • State blames militia known as Kamuina Nsapu for their deaths

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government screened a video showing the execution of two United Nations investigators whose bodies were found in Kasai-Central province last month.

U.S. citizen Michael Sharp and Swedish national Zaida Catalan went missing on March 12 while probing a conflict in the center of the country that has left hundreds of people dead and forced more than 1 million others to flee their homes.

In the video footage, shown to reporters in the capital, Kinshasa, Sharp and Catalan can be seen walking through open vegetation with a group of men, who are wearing red headbands. Their hands are untied and they appear relaxed. The men tell the investigators they will show them the site of mass graves, said police spokesman Colonel Pierre Mwanamputu, who provided narration for the video because of its poor sound quality.

In a second scene, the men tell the pair to sit on the ground before Sharp is suddenly shot. Catalan is then shot on the floor as she crawls away. Two men following instructions from others off camera cut off her hair and then her head using blunt knives.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the executions showed the “barbaric violence” of the Kamuina Nsapu group, named after a local chief killed in a clash with soldiers in August. “These men are not a militia,” he said. “These are terrorists that must be eradicated, without condition.”

Militants loyal to Kamuina Nsapu have attacked government targets since August, clashing regularly with security forces. The fighters, like the executioners, are said to often wear red material around their heads. Bloomberg has no way to confirm the identity of the killers in the video.

The UN office for humanitarian affairs warned last week that the violence has inflamed inter-community tensions and that fighting has extended beyond Kamuina Nsapu loyalists to involve other groups.

Mende said the video had been filmed by one of the attackers, but didn’t describe how Congo’s security forces obtained the footage.

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