Italian ambassador to DR Congo dies after UN convoy attacked
The Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio and a policeman travelling with him were killed after a UN convoy was attacked near the town of Kanyamahoro.
Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, and a military policeman travelling with him have been killed in an attack on a United Nations convoy in eastern DRC, the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The convoy was attacked at around 10:15am (08:15 GMT) during an attempted kidnap by assailants near the town of Kanyamahoro, a few kilometres (miles) north of the regional capital Goma, the Virunga National Park told Reuters.
“It is with deep sorrow that the Foreign Ministry confirms the death today in Goma of the Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, and of a policemen from the Carabinieri,” the foreign ministry statement said.
In a separate statement, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his “great dismay and immense sorrow” and broke 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, paying tribute to the victims as “two servants of the state”.
According to the foreign ministry, the ambassador and the policemen were part of a convoy of MONUSCO, the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
No group has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack so far.
According to the Italian ministry website, Attanasio had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019. He joined the diplomatic service in 2003 and served previously in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria.
Dozens of armed groups operate in and around Virunga, which lies along Congo’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda.
Park rangers have been repeatedly attacked, including six who were killed in an ambush last month.