Friday, February 26, 2021

Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo killed


MONUSCO-Soldaten patrouillieren in der Gegend, wo Italiens Botschafter getötet wurde.

© ALEXIS HUGUET

Rome, Goma – Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo was killed in an armed attack. According to the government in Rome, ambassador Luca Attanasio was shot dead on Monday during an attack on a UN convoy in the east of the country. An Italian military policeman and a driver were also killed. President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi condemned the attack.

Luca Attanasio wurde in der DR Kongo getötet.

© Handout / ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / AFP

According to the Foreign Ministry in Rome, the ambassador was in a convoy of the UN mission in the Congo (Monusco). A high-ranking diplomat in Kinshasa said the ambassador had been with the World Food Program (WFP). The convoy came under fire north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province. Attanasio was shot and died of serious injuries in a hospital in Goma.

The World Food Program, which is based in Rome, confirmed that the ambassador had participated in a mission of the UN organization. The convoy started in Goma and wanted to attend a WFP school lunch program in the city of Rutshuru, the organization said. The attack occurred on a road that was open to unattended journeys.

📽️ Video | Italian ambassador in Congo killed

43-year-old Ambassador to Kinshasa since 2017

Attanasio was 43 years old and, according to the Italian Foreign Ministry, had been ambassador in Kinshasa since 2017. He joined the diplomatic service in his country in 2003 and has already worked in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria.

Italian President Mattarella condemned the “cowardly attack” on the ambassador and the military policeman Vittorio Iacovacci. All of Italy mourn the civil servants who were killed in the exercise of their duties, said Mattarella. He expressed his “deepest condolences” to the families of all three killed.

Prime Minister Draghi also expressed his condolences. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his “great dismay and immeasurable sadness” over the attack. He interrupted a meeting with his EU colleagues in Brussels and immediately traveled back to Italy.

Dozens of militias are fighting each other

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.

A new Ebola outbreak in North Kivu is causing additional problems. According to the provincial government on Sunday, four of six infected people have already died of the infectious disease.

Attanasio is the second European ambassador to be killed while on duty in the Congo. In January 1993, the French diplomat Philippe Bernard was killed in unrest in Kinshasa. (WHAT)



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