The Italian Ambassador to the DRC and an Italian carabinieri were killed today in an attack on a UN convoy in an area where various rebel groups operate, the Associated Press reported, citing the Foreign Ministry in Rome and local sources in Kinshasa.
The ambush against the convoy of the World Food Program, in which Ambassador Luca Athanasio and the officer were killed, is in the area of Virunga National Park near the city of Goma, the regional capital of North Kivu province. According to the Congolese news portal Aktualite, the attack was aimed at taking hostages. In addition to the diploma, several others were seriously injured. The wounded were transported to a local UN hospital.
The provincial governor said the ambassador died of his wounds shortly after the shooting. His bodyguard and the driver of the car were also killed. The unidentified assailants were repulsed by rangers patrolling the park.
The Foreign Ministry in Rome confirmed the death of the diplomat, who was traveling in a car of the UN mission – MONUSCO. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Mayo was in Brussels today to meet with his EU counterparts, but after informing them of what happened, he left the meeting early, BTA writes.
In January 2019, the first democratic change of power since independence in 1960 took place in the DRC with the election of President Felix Chisekedi, who succeeded Joseph Kabila after a controversial election marked by alleged fraud and dealings. The UN peacekeeping mission is in the process of reducing its 16,000-strong military presence and shifting security concerns to the Congolese authorities.
Following diplomatic posts in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria, Athanasio was appointed Ambassador to Kinshasa in September 2017.
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