Sunday, February 28, 2021

Congo: Italy’s ambassador killed in militia attack – politics


In the east of the Central African country of the Congo, the Italian ambassador, a carabiniere and their driver were killed in an attack. The diplomat Luca Attanasio, 43, was on his way to a World Food Program project in the Virunga National Park in the triangle between the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, around 2,500 kilometers from Kinshasa, when an armed militia attacked the convoy. Rangers from the national park, which is famous for its mountain gorillas, engaged in an exchange of fire with the attackers. Several passengers were injured. Attanasio was shot in the stomach and died in hospital in the nearby border town of Goma.

The Congolese authorities believe that the raid squad may have been a Rwandan group trying to kidnap the ambassador. Apparently they knew about the mission and were targeting Attanasio. It happens again and again that militias cross borders and kidnap people. In the past three years alone, more than 170 people have been kidnapped in the area, Human Rights Watch reports. Most of the victims are women; they are beaten, tortured and raped until they are released for ransom.

“The mission is sometimes dangerous,” said the ambassador

The Italian media published photos showing the ambassador before the trip to the national park: loose in a T-shirt, sunglasses on his face, the cell phone poking out of his pocket. Attanasio was one of Italy’s youngest ambassadors. His three daughters are still young. One was born when the family was already stationed in the Congo. Before he was posted to Kinshasa in 2017, the graduate in business administration held a post in Nigeria. He began his career as a trade representative in the embassy in Bern, after which he was consul general in Casablanca. There he met his wife: Zakia Seddiki heads the humanitarian organization “Mama Sofia”, which looks after the fate of women and children in Africa, for example with outpatient clinics.

In autumn, the couple received a peace prize for their commitment, which is awarded in Italy. Attanasio said at the time: “The mission of an ambassador is sometimes a dangerous one, but we have a duty to set an example.”

The news of the murder of the ambassador, his 30-year-old bodyguard and the driver shocked Italy. President Sergio Mattarella spoke of a cowardly attack, the country was in mourning for the three men.



#Congo #Italys #ambassador #killed #militia #attack #politics

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