Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Luca Attanasio has been killed during an attempted kidnap on a United Nations convoy in the restive east of the vast central African country.
The Italian ambassador was killed Monday morning February 22in an attack in the locality of Kibumba, 25 kilometers to the Northeast of Goma in North Kivu.
A spokesperson for Virunga national park said the convoy from the World Food Programme was attacked at about 10.15 am local time (0815 GMT) during an attempted kidnap near the town of Kanyamahoro, about 10 miles north of the regional capital, Goma.
His driver and bodyguard were killed on the spot.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but the road on which the convoy was traveling is a frequent site of attacks by bandits and armed militia.
The Italian foreign ministry said in a statement;
“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 policemen from the carabinieri.
“The ambassador and the soldier were traveling in a car in a convoy of Monusco, the United Nations Organisation stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Attanasio died of his wounds in the UN hospital in Goma.
In a swift reaction to the killing, The Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC government, says it will do everything in its powers to ensure that the Italian Ambassador’s killers are brought to book.
“I have made a promise to the Italian government that the government of my country would put all in place to discover who is behind this ignoble murder,” said Ntumba Nzeza, DR Congo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The convoy in which he was traveling was made up of two vehicles with seven persons on board.
According to an announcement by David McLachlan-Karr, the Assistant Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN in DR Congo, the delegation in which the Italian ambassador was a member was going to Goma in Rutshuru to visit a school food program of the World Food Programme (WFP) when the convoy was attacked.
“The World Food Programme will collaborate with the national authorities to determine the details of the attack which took place on a road for which prior authority to ply without a security escort had been obtained,” the UN agency said.
“I have been overwhelmed by the death of Ambassador Luca Attanasa, one of his colleagues as well as a colleague of the World Food Programme,” declared David McLachlan-Karr, who is the interim head of the UN Mission in DR Congo, adding that “those responsible for this attack must be identified and pursued with the strongest determination.”
“An ambassador comes to a faraway land, and he moves around without the security services being in the know,” declared General Aba Van Ang, Provincial Commissioner of the Congolese National Police, this afternoon.
The murdered ambassador was the First Counsellor in the Italian Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2015 before being posted to Kinshasa in Sept. 2017 as Chief of Mission.
The 43-year-old, who was married with three children, had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019