A man with Hesston ties kidnapped in Congo

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Dozens of people were kidnapped past year by armed groups in eastern Congo, usually to obtain a ransom.

An American was abducted while working as a United Nations official in central Africa, his father told NBC News on Tuesday. John Sharp, a faculty member at Hesston College, and his wife, Michele, live in Hesston, Kansas.

"We're hopeful", John Sharp said.

Sharp and Zaida Catalan were part of a group of United Nations experts studying conflicts between militias and armed groups. There was no information on who the kidnappers may have been, Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said.

Miller Sharp said her son and his team were due back in NY shortly to write reports, and his second 18-month term with the United Nations was almost over when the kidnapping occurred.

Congo is home to multiple militias competing for stakes in this vast Central African nation's rich mineral resources.

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After finishing college, Michael Sharp spent three years in Germany working to provide counseling for US troops who had expressed an interest in becoming conscientious objectors, his father said. In addition to Sharp and Catalan, four citizens of Congo were kidnapped.

They were reportedly taken in the central Kasai province which has recently been hit by several attacks carried out by Kamuina Nsapu militia. He has worked for the U.N.in Congo since 2015.

The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa said in a statement that it was aware of the reports of a missing U.S. citizen.

The college has since released a statement to the Mennonite saying the community is 'heavy-hearted at the news of the kidnapping of Michael J. Sharp.

Sharp is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., and Bethany Christian Schools in Goshen, Ind.