DR Congo : Italian Ambassador killed in an ambush on UN Convoy near Goma

DR Congo : Italian Ambassador killed in an ambush on UN Convoy near Goma

Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, has been killed in an attack in the east of the country, with an Italian military officer and a congolese driver, on Monday morning.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations confirmed his death in a statement issued yesterday “It is with deep sadness that the foreign ministry confirms the death, today in Goma, of the Italian ambassador,” reads the statement.

Attanasio was travelling in a UN's World Food Programme, WFP, convoy with an Italian military officer, Vittorio Iacovacci, and a Congolese driver, Moustapha Milambo , to visit a “schools programme” in the village of Rutshuru in eastern DR Congo, according to WFP.

 The vehicles were suddenly ambushed by a group of armed men , who fired warning shots before taking all the passengers into the Virunga National Park. The attack is believed to have been an attempted kidnapping, according to officials at the nearby Virunga National Park

A patrol of Virunga National Park rangers intervened and managed to free the ambassador  and several others who have been reported as wounded and have been transported to the hospital for medical care. Unfortunately, 43 years old Luca Attanasio, died in hospital on Monday.

It is not clear who was behind the attack. But, “ According to the Kivu Security Centre, an NGO that monitors attacks in the region, there are four armed groups active in this particular area, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR-Foca, and ex-members of the M23 rebellion,” quoted from France 24.

Besides, the Congolese Interior ministry  in a statement claimed that a Hutu rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR, is responsible for the killings.

However, DRC's Foreign Minister, Marie Tumba Nzeza, indicated that , an investigation into the killings was under way. In the meantime, the Italian Government is in great dismay and strongly condemns the “cowardly attack”.

Italian President, Sergio Mattarella  said in a statement,  that, “the Italian republic is in mourning for these servants of the state who lost their lives…my deepest sympathy and solidarity with the families of Luca Attanasio and those of a policeman, Vittorio Iacovacci, and a driver who died.

Besides, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, in  a statement issued on Monday expressed his great shock and immense sorrow at the brutal killings.

Today Italy mourns the loss of two of its sons and embraces their families …No effort will be spared to shed light on what happened,” he said.

Mr Attanasio had represented Italy in the DRC since 2017. He joined the diplomatic service in 2003 and spent time in Morocco and Nigeria. The father of three is remembered for his warmth and professionalism, and his death sparked an outpouring of grief from politicians and colleagues.

By Fabiola Kemegni

 

 

 

 

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