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Italian ambassador to DR Congo dies in assault on UN convoy


Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and two different folks have been killed in an assault on a United Nations convoy within the restive east of the central African nation.

The convoy from the World Meals Programme was attacked at about 10.15am native time (0815 GMT) throughout an tried kidnapping close to the city of Kanyamahoro, about 10 miles north of the regional capital, Goma, a spokesperson for Virunga nationwide park mentioned.

Ambassador Luca Attanasio and a male Italian army police officer travelling with him have been killed, the Italian international ministry mentioned in a press release. A driver additionally died within the assault, diplomatic sources and native officers mentioned.

It was not instantly clear who was behind the assault, however the highway on which the convoy was travelling is a frequent web site of assaults by bandits and armed militia.

“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 policeman from the carabinieri,” the Italian international ministry assertion mentioned. “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 died of his wounds within the UN hospital in Goma. The 43-year-old, who was married with three youngsters, had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019.

Moroccan troopers on patrol within the Virunga nationwide park after the assault that killed three folks together with Italy’s ambassador to DRC on Monday. {Photograph}: Alexis Huguet/AFP/Getty

The UN’s peacekeeping and humanitarian help mission within the DRC is likely one of the greatest and most harmful such operations on the planet.

The precise circumstances of the assault stay unclear. The governor of North Kivu province, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, mentioned the assailants stopped the convoy by firing warning photographs. They killed the motive force and have been main the others into the forest when park rangers opened fireplace. The attackers killed the bodyguard and the ambassador additionally died, Nzanzu mentioned.

Mambo Kawaya, the president of civil society teams in Nyiragongo territory, advised Actualité.cd, a neighborhood information web site, that there have been 5 folks in Attanasio’s automobile when it was attacked.

“The driver appears to have been killed [immediately] after receiving multiple bullet wounds but others were wounded and taken to the Monusco base … The situation is tense,” Kawaya mentioned.

Dozens of armed teams function in and round Virunga, which lies alongside DRC’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda. Park rangers have been repeatedly attacked, together with six who have been killed in an ambush last month. Native safety forces are under-resourced, poorly educated and corrupt.

In Might 2018, gunmen attacked a automobile carrying vacationers travelling from Goma to their lodging in Virunga nationwide park very near the place Attanasio’s convoy was ambushed. A 25-year-old ranger was shot useless, a Congolese driver was wounded and two British vacationers have been held by the militia in a single day.

Marie Tumba Nzeza, the minister of international affairs, said her authorities would examine the assault. “It is with great pain and much sadness that we have just learned of the death of the young Italian ambassador here in DRC,” mentioned Nzeza.

“I promise the Italian government that the government of my country we will do all we can to discover who is responsible for this ignoble murder.”

Nzeza’s pledge could also be met with some scepticism. The murderers of two UN consultants killed in DRC in 2017 are but to be delivered to justice regardless of years of worldwide stress.

Attanasio joined the Italian diplomatic service in 2003 and served beforehand in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria. Emanuela Del Re, who was Italy’s deputy international minister from 2018 till final month, hailed him as “a man gifted with uncommon courage, humanity and professionalism”.

He’s the second European ambassador to have been killed whereas serving within the DRC. In January 1993, French ambassador Philippe Bernard was killed throughout riots in Kinshasa sparked by troops opposing dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.





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