KINSHASA, Congo — The Italian ambassador to Congo, an Italian carabineri police officer and their Congolese driver had been killed Monday when gunmen attacked a U.N. convoy going to go to a faculty in japanese Congo, the Italian Foreign Ministry and residents mentioned.
The ambush occurred because the convoy was travelling from Goma, Congo’s japanese regional capital, to go to a World Food Program faculty undertaking in Rutshuru, the U.N. company mentioned.
The WFP mentioned the attack occurred on a highway that had been cleared beforehand for journey with out safety escorts, and it was looking for extra info from native officers on the attack. Eastern Congo is house to myriad insurgent teams all vying for management of the mineral-rich Central African nation that’s the dimension of Western Europe.
Luca Attanasio, Italy’s ambassador to the nation since 2017, carabinieri officer Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver had been killed, the Foreign Minister mentioned. Other members of the convoy had been injured and brought to a hospital, WFP mentioned.
The attack, just a few kilometers north of Goma, was simply subsequent to the Virunga National Park. North Kivu Gov. Carly Nzanzu Kasivita mentioned the U.N. autos had been hijacked by the attackers and brought into the bush. The Congolese military and park guards for Virunga National Park got here to assist those that had been attacked, he mentioned.
“There was an alternate of fireplace. The attackers fired on the bodyguard and the ambassador,” the governor mentioned, including that the ambassador later died from his wounds.
Attanasio, a 43-year-old profession diplomat, left behind a spouse and three younger kids.
The attack occurred in the identical space the place two Britons had been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in 2018, mentioned Mambo Kaway, head of an area civil society group.
“The state of affairs may be very tense,” he added.
More than 2,000 civilians had been killed final 12 months in japanese Congo in violence by armed teams whose brutal assaults have additionally displaced over 5.2 million individuals in what the U.N. calls one of many world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Marie Tumba Nzenza, Congo’s minister of international affairs, despatched her condolences and promised the Italian authorities that the Congolese authorities would do all it may to search out these behind the killings.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Mario Draghi additionally expressed their condolences to the victims’ households.
“The circumstances of this brutal attack are nonetheless unclear and no effort will probably be spared to shed mild on what occurred,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio mentioned.
Di Maio was flying from Brussels to Rome to fulfill with Draghi and to temporary Italian lawmakers on the attack. The Rome prosecutors’ workplace routinely leads investigations of Italians who’re victims of crime overseas.
A particular Carabinieri investigative unit was headed to Kinshasha and anticipated to reach Tuesday, Italian state TV reported.
After serving in diplomatic roles in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria, Attanasio was assigned to the Italian embassy in Kinshasa in September 2017.
Last October, he was awarded the Nassiriya International Prize for Peace in a ceremony held in a church in southern Italy. Attanasio was cited for “having contributed to the conclusion of necessary humanitarian initiatives, distinguishing himself for altruism, dedication and the spirit of service for individuals in problem,” the La Repubblica newspaper reported.
It quoted Attanasio as saying that “all that which we take with no consideration in Italy is not in Congo, the place, sadly, there are such a lot of issues to resolve.”
Attanasio described the position of the ambassador is “above all to be near the Italians but additionally to contribute to reaching peace.” Some 1,000 Italians reside in Congo.
Congo suffered by one of many worl’s most brutal colonial reigns earlier than present process many years of corrupt dictatorship. Back-to-back civil wars later drew in quite a few neighboring nations. In January 2019, Congo skilled its first peaceable democratic switch of energy since independence in 1960 following the election of President Felix Tshisekedi.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission has been working towards drawing down its greater than 17,000-troop presence in the nation and switch its safety work to Congolese authorities.
Winfield reported from Rome. Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal, Lorne Cook in Brussels and Frances D’Emilio in Rome contributed.
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