Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, and two others were killed on Monday in an attack on a United Nations convoy in the eastern part of the country, reported The Guardian. The other two killed in the attack were a military police officer and a driver.
The convoy of the United Nations World Food Programme was attacked around 10.15 am during an attempted kidnapping near the Kanyamahoro town, near regional capital Goma. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, however there have been reports of many armed groups operating around the Virunga National Park.
“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,” Italy’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “The ambassador and the soldier were travelling in a car in a convoy of Monusco, the United Nations Organisation stabilisation mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Attanasio, who was Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa in 2017, succumbed to his injuries in the United Nations hospital in Goma. He was made the ambassador of Italy in 2019.
After the attack, Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said he had “great dismay and immense sorrow”, reported BBC. “No effort will be spared to shed light on what happened,” he said.
Militant groups engage in clashes frequently in the eastern part of the country. DR Congo was also at the center of a civil war for several years. The conflict caused five million deaths between 1994 and 2003. However, the end of the dispute did not put an end to the violence. The United Nation’s peacekeeping mission, one of the largest with over 17,000 personnel, has been in the country since 1999.