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Goma – Democratic Republic of the Congo: The Italian ambassador to Kinshasa was shot dead Monday during an armed attack on a World Food Program convoy during a visit near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to a diplomatic source.
In a statement, the Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed the killing of its ambassador. “It is with deep sadness that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms the killing today in Goma, the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luca Atanasio and a soldier,” she said.
A high-ranking diplomatic source in Kinshasa said that the ambassador “died of his wounds.” The army spokesman in North Kivu, Major Guillaume Dyck, confirmed that two other people were killed in the attack, without identifying the two victims.
The other two victims may have been the driver and the ambassador’s escort, according to several sources.
Luca Atanasio has held the position since early 2018.
The diplomatic source clarified that after “he was seriously injured in the abdomen,” the ambassador was evacuated to a hospital in Goma “in critical condition”.
The Congolese army declared that “the Congolese armed forces are combing (the area) to find out who are the perpetrators.
The attack took place on the WFP convoy in North Goma, the epicenter of North Kivu, which has been subjected to violent acts by armed groups for more than 25 years.
This area includes the Virunga National Park, a threatened tourism nature reserve, and is also a testament to the conflicts in North Kivu, where armed groups fight over control of the earth’s resources.
Virunga Park, dating back to 1925, is the oldest in Africa and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This reserve extends over 7769 square kilometers from Goma to Beni, between mountains and forests.
The park is under surveillance by 689 armed guards, including 200 who were killed in the course of their duties, officials said.
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