Monday, February 22, 2021
Raid in Eastern Congo
Ambassador of Italy murdered in ambush
Criminal gangs have been raging in Eastern Congo for years – now the Italian ambassador is also falling victim to the rampant violence in the region. He is so badly injured in an attack on a convoy that he dies a little later. His driver and a bodyguard are also killed.
In the east of the Central African country of the Congo, armed attackers ambushed a World Food Program (WFP) convoy and killed the Italian ambassador, Luca Attanasio. He died of serious injuries shortly after the attack, according to the governor responsible for the North Kivu region, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita. According to him, rangers who happened to be in the area repelled the attack. Authorities said a driver and the bodyguard were also killed in the ambush.
The Foreign Ministry in Rome confirmed the death of the ambassador and a security officer. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio traveled prematurely from a meeting in Brussels to Italy because of the incident, as the Ansa news agency wrote. Di Maio had previously informed his EU colleagues about the death of the ambassador. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed his dismay over the death of the ambassador on Twitter. “Our thoughts and condolences go to the relatives of the deceased,” said the tweet.
Hours later, the Ministry of the Interior of the Democratic Republic of the Congo blamed the Rwandan Hutu rebels for killing the ambassador. The attack on a convoy was carried out by armed members of the rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the ministry said. In addition to Attanasio, an Italian military policeman and a Congolese driver were killed. The attackers also kidnapped four people, it said. One of the kidnapping victims has since been found by Congolese soldiers.
Police surprised by the ambassador’s visit
The government in Kinshasa said it regretted “this tragedy” and would “spare no effort” to restore security in the conflict-ridden region in the east of the country. Immediately after the incident, the Congolese police were surprised at the presence of the ambassador in the region and the fact that he was traveling without police protection. He was reportedly on the way to the well-known Virunga National Park on the border with Uganda and Rwanda. The Unesco World Heritage Site is famous for the endangered mountain gorillas that only live in these three countries.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has to contend with numerous conflicts, especially in the east of the huge Central African country. Dozens of militias are fighting each other in North Kivu and the other three eastern provinces, including control over mineral resources. According to the UN, more than 2,000 civilians were killed in the fighting last year alone.
The armed rebel group FDLR consists mainly of Rwandans who fled their homeland during the civil war in 1994. The group operates primarily in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is repeatedly accused of crimes against the civilian population.
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