Photo: Ambassador Luca Attanasio
Italy’s ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo has been killed along with his bodyguard and a World Food Program driver when their convoy was attacked in the east of the country, Italy and the United Nations say.
The assailants on Monday stopped the convoy by firing warning shots, killed the Congolese driver and were leading the passengers into the forest when park rangers opened fire, the governor of North Kivu province, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, told Reuters.
The Italian ambassador, Luca Attanasio, 43, was hit in the abdomen and died several hours later at the UN hospital in the regional capital Goma, Congo’s interior ministry said.
Italy said Attanasio’s bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, also died in the attack. The driver was named by a security source and local rights activists as Mustapha Milambo.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Congo’s interior ministry blamed a Hutu militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
It is one of dozens of armed groups operating in and around Virunga National Park, which lies along Congo’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda.
“I promise the Italian government that my country’s government will do everything to discover who is behind this awful murder,” Congo’s foreign minister Marie Ntumba Nzeza said.
The convoy was attacked on Monday morning about 25 kilometres north of Goma, a spokesman for the Virunga National Park told Reuters.
The UN’s World Food Program said the delegation was on its way to visit a school feeding program in Rutshuru. It said the road had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts.