Italian ambassador killed in DRC: Rwandan Hutu rebels accuse Congolese and Rwandan armies
In the aftermath of the attack which cost the life of the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Rwandan Hutu rebels, accused by Kinshasa, denied their involvement and pointed the finger at the Congolese and Rwandan armies on Tuesday.
Luca Attanasio, 43, died after being shot and wounded when the World Food Program (WFP) convoy he was traveling in was ambushed in the province of North Kivu (East), near the border with Rwanda. His Italian bodyguard and a Congolese driver from the World Food Program (WFP) were also killed.
This province is considered one of the most dangerous areas in the DRC, on the edge of Virunga National Park. But according to aid officials, the road the convoy was traveling on did not require an escort.
The Congolese authorities on Monday accused the Rwandan Hutu rebels of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), installed in eastern DRC, of being responsible for the attack, described as “terrorist” by Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi .
But in a statement to AFP on Tuesday, the FDLR denied any involvement. instead of hasty accusations “.
The Rwandan rebels claim that “the ambassador’s convoy was attacked in an area known as the + three antennae +, near Goma on the border with Rwanda not far from a position of the FARDC (Armed Forces of the DRC) and (…) Rwandan Defense Forces “(Rwandan army).
“The responsibilities of this despicable assassination are to be found in the ranks of these two armies”, accuse the rebels.
The FDLR, created in the early 2000s to fight the Kigali regime, are one of the many formidable armed groups that threaten civilians in eastern DRC on a daily basis. Some of the founders of the FDLR participated in the genocide of the Tutsis in April-July 1994 in Rwanda, before taking refuge in eastern DRC, lastingly destabilizing the region.
The attack on the convoy in which the ambassador was traveling took place on the national road 2 which runs very closely along the Rwandan border, in an area of dense and mountainous forest, where the borders are not watertight.
The Congolese and Rwandan authorities systematically deny any presence of Rwandan troops on the territory of the DRC.
According to the Congolese presidency, the convoy was ambushed 3 km from their destination, the commune of Kiwanja, in the territory of Rutshuru, when “the attackers, six in number, armed with five AK-47 weapons as well. than a machete “burst in.
“They fired warning shots before forcing the occupants of the vehicles to get off and follow them into the far end of the park (Virunga) and this, after having shot one of the drivers in order to create panic” , adds the presidency.
Alerted, the rangers and the Congolese soldiers present in the surroundings started in pursuit of the attackers. “At 500 m (from the scene of the attack), the kidnappers shot point blank at the bodyguard (Italian), who died on the spot, and at the ambassador, wounding him in the abdomen”.
According to an expert from the Kivu Security Barometer (KST), “the FDLR are close to where the attack took place. It is possible that these Rwandan rebels are responsible for this attack,” he said. explained to AFP.
The head of Italian diplomacy Luigi Di Maio will speak in the day before the Parliament on this attack. Luca Attanasio had been Ambassador to the DRC since October 2019.
According to a UN humanitarian official in the country, the route taken did not require a military escort.
“This road was validated without escort, but with the obligation of a convoy of at least two vehicles,” this source told AFP on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The WFP for its part said in a statement Monday that the attack occurred “on a road which had previously been validated to circulate without security escort”.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the DRC to “investigate with diligence” this attack, strongly condemned in a statement by the 15 members of the UN Security Council.
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