Italian ambassador among 3 killed in attack on Congo convoy

KINSHASA, Congo — The Italian ambassador to Congo, an Italian carabinieri police officer and their Congolese driver had been killed Monday when gunmen attacked a U.N. convoy going to go to a faculty in japanese Congo, the Italian Foreign Ministry and residents stated.

The ambush occurred because the convoy was touring from Goma, Congo’s japanese regional capital, to go to a World Food Program college venture in Rutshuru, the U.N. company stated.

The WFP stated the attack occurred on a highway that had been cleared beforehand for journey with out safety escorts, and it was in search of extra data from native officers on the attack. Eastern Congo is dwelling to myriad insurgent teams all vying for management of the mineral-rich Central African nation that’s the measurement of Western Europe.

Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio.Italian Foreign Ministry / AFP – Getty Images

Luca Attanasio, Italy’s ambassador to the nation since 2017, carabinieri officer Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver had been killed, the Foreign Minister stated. Other members of the convoy had been injured and brought to a hospital, WFP stated.

The attack, a couple of miles north of Goma, was simply subsequent to the Virunga National Park. North Kivu Gov. Carly Nzanzu Kasivita stated the U.N. automobiles had been hijacked by the attackers and brought into the bush. The Congolese military and park guards for Virunga National Park got here to assist those that had been attacked, he stated.

“There was an exchange of fire. The attackers fired at the bodyguard and the ambassador,” the governor stated, including that the ambassador later died from his wounds.

Attanasio, a 43-year-old profession diplomat, left behind a spouse and three younger kids.

The attack occurred in the identical space the place two Britons had been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in 2018, stated Mambo Kaway, head of an area civil society group.

“The situation is very tense,” he added.

More than 2,000 civilians had been killed final 12 months in japanese Congo in violence by armed teams whose brutal assaults have additionally displaced over 5.2 million individuals in what the U.N. calls one of many world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Marie Tumba Nzenza, Congo’s minister of international affairs, despatched her condolences and promised the Italian authorities that the Congolese authorities would do all it may to search out these behind the killings.

Carabinieri police officer Vittorio Iacovacci.Italian Carabinieri Police Press Office / by way of AFP – Getty Images

Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Mario Draghi additionally expressed their condolences to the victims’ households.

“The circumstances of this brutal attack are still unclear and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.

Di Maio was flying from Brussels to Rome to meet with Draghi and to brief Italian lawmakers on the attack. The Rome prosecutors’ office routinely leads investigations of Italians who are victims of crime abroad.

A special Carabinieri investigative unit was headed to Kinshasha and expected to arrive Tuesday, Italian state TV reported.

After serving in diplomatic roles in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria, Attanasio was assigned to the Italian embassy in Kinshasa in September 2017.

Last October, he was awarded the Nassiriya International Prize for Peace in a ceremony held in a church in southern Italy. Attanasio was cited for “having contributed to the realization of important humanitarian projects, distinguishing himself for altruism, dedication and the spirit of service for people in difficulty,” the La Repubblica newspaper reported.

It quoted Attanasio as saying that “all that which we take for granted in Italy isn’t in Congo, where, unfortunately, there are so many problems to resolve.”

Attanasio described the role of the ambassador is “above all to be close to the Italians but also to contribute to achieving peace.” Some 1,000 Italians live in Congo.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission has been working towards drawing down its greater than 17,000-troop presence in the nation and switch its safety work to Congolese authorities.

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