#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 11°C Monday 2 August 2021
Advertisement

Italian ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo killed in gun attack

Luca Attanasio died after a World Food Programme convoy came under attack.

United Nations peacekeepers guard the area where a convoy was attacked
United Nations peacekeepers guard the area where a convoy was attacked
Image: AP/PA Images

THE ITALIAN AMBASSADOR to the Democratic Republic of Congo has been killed after a UN convoy came under attack in the east of the country.

Luca Attanasio died along with two others after a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy came under gunfire near the city of Goma.

The Italian government confirmed Attanasio’s death and said an Italian policeman and a driver also died.

President Sergio Mattarella lashed what he called a “cowardly attack”.

“The Italian republic is in mourning for these servants of the state who lost their lives,” he said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his “great dismay and immense sorrow”, breaking off from a meeting in Brussels with EU counterparts to make an early return to Rome.

“The circumstances of this brutal attack are not yet known and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened,” Di Maio said.

His Congolese opposite number Marie-Therese Tumba Nzeza offered Italy the DRC government’s condolences for “this huge loss”, pledging in a video sent to media to “do everything to find out who is behind this despicable murder”.

Attanasio, 43, had been representing Italy in the country since 2017, first as head of mission, and then as ambassador from October 2019.

The envoy suffered “gunshot wounds to the abdomen” and was taken to a hospital in Goma in critical condition, a diplomat in Kinshasa said.

The DRC’s army said its troops were searching the area for the assailants.

The World Food Programme said that Attanasio was on a fact-finding mission with the UN’s food agency.

“The delegation was travelling from Goma to visit a WFP school feeding programme in Rutshuru when the incident took place,” it said in a statement.

“The attack… occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts,” it said.

Monday’s attack occurred north of Goma, in Nyiaragongo Territory.

Armed groups in the area include a Rwandan Hutu militia called the FDLR, as well as the M23, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The region includes the UNESCO-listed Virunga National Park, a vast wildlife reserve that is home to a quarter of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas.

More than 200 of the park’s rangers have been killed in attacks stretching back more than a decade.

The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, said last week that more than 2,000 civilians were killed in North and South Kivu and Ituri province last year.

Attanasio is the second European ambassador to have been killed while serving in the DRC.

In January 1993, French ambassador Philippe Bernard was killed during riots in Kinshasa sparked by troops opposing dictator Mobutu Sese Seke.

© AFP 2021

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (9)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel