In the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Italian Ambassador Luke Athanasio was killed in an attack on a UN convoy on Monday. The attack took place near the city of Goma.
The Italian ambassador went to the UN World Food Program convoy, which was fired at by as yet unidentified attackers. This may have been an attempted kidnapping, as armed gangs often break up in the region.
The 43-year-old ambassador was injured in the attack and died from his injuries. Two more people were killed in the attack – the ambassador’s driver and the bodyguard.
DR Congo soldiers search the area in an attempt to capture the attackers. Athanasio has been the Italian Ambassador to the DRC since 2017, having previously worked in Morocco and Nigeria. Senior Italian officials have expressed condolences to the ambassador’s relatives and condemned the attack.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs (“New Unity”) also expressed his condolences to the ambassador’s family and Italian colleagues.
My profound condolences to the family of the Italian Ambassador in Democratic Republic of Congo Luca Attanasio who has been assassinated this morning near the town of Kanyamahoro, @Latvian_MFA expresses solidarity with our colleagues @ItalyMFA and @luigidimaio
– Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) February 22, 2021
The DR Congo has been experiencing a number of conflicts for years, especially in the mineral-rich east of the country. There are several militant groups in the four eastern provinces. Many of them have their roots in the wars of the 1990s, which also involved several neighboring countries in the DRC and claimed millions of lives.
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