Mon 22 February 2021:
Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luca Attanasio, was among three people killed during an attack on a UN convoy on Monday, local and Italian authorities said.
According to local sources, the convoy was attacked in an attempted kidnapping near Goma, the capital of North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Italy’s Ambassador to the country Luca Attanasio, 43, Italian police officer Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, and their Congolese World Food Program (WFP) driver – whose name has not been released – were confirmed dead in the ambush.
Italy’s foreign ministry confirmed the news “with deep sorrow”, and said the ambassador and soldier had been travelling in a convoy with Monusco, the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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“We would like to express sincere condolences for the tragic loss of our Italian colleague Ambassador Luca Attanasio and a Carabiniere in Congo this morning,” tweeted Ireland’s embassy in Rome. “Our thoughts are with their families, and in full solidarity with Italy as a partner in UN peace-keeping operations.”
“It was with great shock and immense sorrow that I learned of the death today of our Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and of a Carabinieri policeman,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in a statement.
“The circumstances of this brutal attack are still unclear, and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened,” he added.
Di Maio, who was attending a European Union meeting in Brussels, decided to return to Rome earlier when he heard about the deadly attack.
The UN World Food Program also expressed its “deepest sympathy and condolences” to the family, colleagues, and friends of the three victims.
The organization said its delegation was on a field visit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a Central African country, adding that a number of other passengers were also injured in the attack.
The delegation had departed Goma to visit a WFP school feeding program in Rutshuru when the incident took place, the program said.
“WFP will work with national authorities to determine the details behind the attack, which occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts,” it said in a statement.
Dozens of armed groups are active in and around the area of Virunga national park, which lies along Congo’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda. In recent years park rangers have been repeatedly attacked and tourists kidnapped in this dangerous region.
On Friday, the UN Children’s Agency (Unicef) said there are 5.2 million displaced people in the DRC, 50 per cent of whom have been displaced in the last year. More than 3 million of them are children. Only Syria has more displaced, it said.
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