Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, was killed this Monday morning in an attack on a World Food Program convoy outside the city of Goma, in the east of the country. Two more people were killed, the ambassador’s security guard and the driver of the vehicle in which they were driving.
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that a member of the carabinieri who was part of the ambassador’s escort, died along with Attanasio. “The ambassador and the military were traveling on board a MONUSCO vehicle”, the UN mission in the country who was escorting the PAM caravan, he said Italian news agency AdnKronos.
Luca Attanasio, who has served as ambassador to DR Congo since early 2018, was “shot in the abdomen” and transported “in critical condition” to a hospital in Goma, a diplomatic source told AFP.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella denounced the “cowardly attack” that claimed the lives of his ambassador, Italian soldier Vittorio Iacovacci and the driver. “The Italian Republic is in mourning for these State servants who lost their lives in the exercise of their functions,” said Mattarella, lamenting the “act of violence” against a World Food Program convoy.
The Congolese army said that “the Congolese Armed Forces are trying to find out who the aggressors were”.
The attack on the WFP convoy took place north of Goma, the capital of the province of North Kivu, which has been the target of violence by armed groups for more than 25 years.
This region, which hosts the Virunga National Park, is also the scene of conflict in North Kivu, where dozens of armed groups are fighting for control of the soil and subsoil wealth.
Attanasio’s death was confirmed by the park’s spokesman, who suggested that the attack may have been carried out to try to kidnap UN personnel, according to the Congo news portal News. In 2018, two British tourists were abducted at the scene of Monday’s attack.
However, so far, there is no information about the motivations of the attack and its authorship.
Italian news agency Ansa said the head of the European Union delegation in DR Congo would also be among the occupants of the targeted vehicle. There is no information on whether he was shot.
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