Nicolas Pinault
Displayed with permission from Voice of America

Two bodies found in the central part of Democratic Republic of Congo are likely the remains of missing U.N. investigators, according to a government spokesman.

Lambert Mende told VOA French to Africa on Tuesday that two Caucasian bodies, one male and one female, were found in Kasai Central province.

Mende said the bodies are probably those of U.N. experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, who disappeared in the area on March 12 while investigating alleged human rights violations.

He said a third body was also found and is likely that of the investigators’ driver.

Mende said tests are underway to conclusively identify the remains.

Separately, Michael Sharp’s father, John Sharp, reported the finding on his Facebook page.

« Since no other Caucasian have been reported missing in that region, there is a high probability that there are the bodies of MJ [Michael Sharp] and Zaida [Catalan].  Dental records and DNA samples will be used to confirm the identities.  This will take some time.  All other words fail me.  Pray for Michael’s and Zaida’s families, and for peace in Congo, » he wrote.

The U.N. mission in Congo, MONUSCO, launched a rescue operation after Michael Sharp, a U.S. citizen, and Zaida Catalan, a Swedish national, were reported missing along with their Congolese interpreter Betu Tshintela, their Congolese driver Isaac Kabuayi, and two unidentified motobike drivers.

Sharp and Catalan were investigating reported human rights abuses near the village of Bunkonde, south of the provincial capital, Kananga.

The area has been the scene of unrest and violence in recent months.  Members of a militia beheaded about 40 police officers in Kasai on Friday, according to government officials.