AFP PHOTO / ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / HANDOUT
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – The Italian Ambassador to Kinshasa was shot dead on Monday February 22 in an armed attack that targeted a World Food Program (WFP) convoy during a visit near Goma in the east from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we learned from a diplomatic source.
Ambassador Luca Attanasio “died as a result of his injuries,” a senior diplomatic source in Kinshasa told AFP. Two other people were also killed during the attack, Major Guillaume Djike, an army spokesman in the North Kivu region, told AFP, without specifying the identity of the victims. It is said to be the driver and bodyguard of the ambassador, an Italian soldier named Vittorio Iacovacci, according to several sources.
Luca Attanasio had been in post since early 2018. Aged 43, he had spent most of his career outside Africa where he was very involved in humanitarian projects.
An appreciated and recognized figure
Entering the diplomatic corps in 2003 after studying business at the “Luigi Bocconi” University of Milan and a doctorate in international politics, Luca Attanasio 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 became a counselor at the Italian Embassy in Nigeria in 2015.
“He was very well known and loved. We are dismayed ”, reacted on Facebook Alessandro Fermi, the president of the regional council of Lombardy, region of the North of Italy where he was born on May 23, 1977, in Saronno, near Milan.
Emanuela Del Re, former Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, paid tribute to “a man endowed with extraordinary courage, humanity and professionalism”. “I remember her contagious smile, her class, her great knowledge of African issues”, she added, she who had worked with the ambassador on the emergency repatriation of a “very sick” nun.
In October 2020, Luca Attanasio received the Nassiriya Peace Prize “for his commitment to peace between peoples” and “for having contributed to the realization of important humanitarian projects, distinguished by his altruism, his dedication and its spirit of service in support of people in difficulty ”. “Everything in Italy we take for granted is not in the Congo where unfortunately there are still so many problems to be solved”, he said at the time.
Luca Attanasio was married and the father of three daughters. His wife, Zakia Seddiki, originally from Casablanca, is the founder and president of an NGO, “Mama Sofia”, which works in the most difficult regions of the DRC by helping young mothers and their children.
A theater of regular violence
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,” added the Congolese army.
The attack on this WFP convoy took place in the north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, 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. .
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.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday denounced the “cowardly attack” that claimed the life of his ambassador. “The Italian Republic is mourning those servants of the state who lost their lives in the line of duty,” added Sergio Mattarella, lamenting the “act of violence” perpetrated while traveling by car. in a convoy of the Monusco, the Blue Helmets mission to the DRC.
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