Friday, February 26, 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo: Italian ambassador killed in armed attack


Italy in mourning. The Italian ambassador in Kinshasa was killed on Monday during an armed attack which targeted a convoy “in a Monusco convoy”, the peacekeepers mission which has been present in the DRC for twenty years, confirms the Ministry of Affairs foreigners in a press release.

“It is with deep sadness that the Foreign Ministry confirms the death today (Monday) in Goma, the Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luca Attanasio, and a soldier, ”further details the press release. According to a diplomatic source in Kinshasa, the diplomat was shot dead.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who was in Brussels for a meeting with his European counterparts, announced his early return to Rome. The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, for his part, denounced a “cowardly attack”.

“The Congolese Armed Forces are combing to find out who the attackers are”

Luca Attanasio, 43, had been ambassador to the DRC since October 2019, after arriving in the country two years earlier as head of mission, according to his official biography. He entered a diplomatic career at the end of 2003, after studying business at the Luigi Bocconi University of Milan. He started in the Directorate of Economic Affairs, before working on African issues and international cooperation.

Abroad, he was first appointed head of the economic and commercial section at the Bern embassy (2006-2010), then consul general in Casablanca, Morocco (2010-2013). After a stint in Rome, he also became a counselor at the Italian Embassy in Nigeria in 2015.

Seriously “shot in the abdomen”, the ambassador was evacuated to a hospital in Goma “in critical condition”, the diplomatic source told AFP. “The Congolese Armed Forces are combing to find out who the attackers are,” the Congolese army said.

Close to the coveted area of ​​Virunga National Park

The attack on this UN convoy took place north of Goma, the capital of the province of North Kivu, which has been plagued by violence from armed groups for more than 25 years. This region is home to the Virunga National Park, a natural, touristic and threatened gem, which is also the theater of conflicts in this region of North Kivu, where dozens of armed groups compete for control of the wealth of the soil and the subsoil. .

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Created in 1925, Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This reserve extends over 7,769 km2, from Goma to the territory of Béni, between mountains and forests. The park is guarded by 689 armed rangers, at least 200 of whom have been killed in the line of duty, according to its officials.



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