The Italian ambassador to Congo, an Italian carabinieri police officer and their Congolese driver have been killed Monday in an assault on a U.N. convoy in an space that’s residence to myriad insurgent teams, the Overseas Ministry and native individuals mentioned.
The ambush occurred because the convoy was touring from Goma, Congo’s japanese regional capital, to go to a World Meals Program college feeding venture in Rutshuru, the U.N. company mentioned in a press release.
WFP mentioned it was in search of info from native authorities, because the ambush occurred on a highway that had beforehand been cleared for journey with out safety escorts.
Luca Attanasio, Italy’s ambassador to the nation since 2017, carabinieri officer Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver have been killed. Different members of the convoy have been injured, WFP mentioned.
The assault occurred within the territory of Nyiragongo, in North Kivu, the identical space, often known as the “three antennas,” the place two Britons have been kidnapped by unidentified armed males in 2018, mentioned Mambo Kaway, president of an area civil society group.
“There have been 5 individuals aboard the automobile, together with the Italian ambassador,” Kaway mentioned. “The motive force died after being shot with a number of bullets, and others have been wounded,” he mentioned.
“The scenario could be very tense,” he added.
The wounded have been taken to a close-by U.N. hospital.
The North Kivu governor, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, mentioned that the automobiles have been taken hostage and escorted into the bush and that when native individuals noticed them, they alerted the authorities.
The Congolese military and park guards for Virunga Nationwide Park got here to the rescue, he mentioned.
“There was an alternate of fireside. 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, leaves a spouse and three younger youngsters.
The assault, a couple of kilometers north of the regional capital of Goma, was simply subsequent to the Virunga Nationwide Park. Final month gunmen shot and killed no less than six rangers within the Rutshuru space of the park.
Marie Tumba Nzenza, Minister of Overseas Affairs, despatched her condolences and promised the Italian authorities that the Congolese authorities would do all it might to research and discover out who’s behind the killings.
Greater than 2,000 civilians have been killed final yr in japanese Congo in violence by armed teams whose brutal assaults utilizing machetes and heavy weapons have additionally displaced hundreds of thousands in what the United Nations calls one of many worst humanitarian crises as assaults ramp up this yr.
EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell knowledgeable the bloc’s international ministers of the incident at a gathering he’s chairing in Brussels and introduced his condolences to Italy and the United Nations.
“The information (is) extraordinarily worrying, and we’re following the scenario intently with the EU delegation” in Congo, EU Fee spokeswoman Nabila Massrali mentioned.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Mario Draghi expressed their condolences to the households of the victims. Overseas Minister Luigi Di Maio vowed to establish who was answerable for killing “exemplary” Italians as they did their jobs.
“The circumstances of this brutal assault are nonetheless unclear and no effort can be spared to make clear what occurred,” he mentioned in a press release.
Congo’s east is residence to myriad insurgent teams all vying for management of the mineral-rich land.
There are 5.2 million individuals displaced within the Central African nation, based on the United Nations Kids’s Company, which mentioned in a report Friday that this represents extra displaced than in some other nation besides Syria. Up to now yr alone, 50% have been displaced, it mentioned.
The nation the dimensions of Western Europe suffered by one of the vital brutal colonial reigns ever identified earlier than present process many years of corrupt dictatorship. Again-to-back civil wars later drew in quite a lot of neighboring nations. And lots of insurgent teams have come and gone through the U.N. mission’s years of operation, at occasions invading the japanese regional capital, Goma, the place the ambassador was killed.
In January 2019, Congo skilled its first peaceable democratic switch of energy since independence in 1960 following the election of President Felix Tshisekedi. He succeeded strongman Joseph Kabila in a disputed election marked by allegations of large-scale fraud.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission, identified by its acronym MONUSCO, has been working to attract down its no less than 16,000-troop presence and switch its safety work to Congolese authorities.
After serving in diplomatic roles in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria, Attanasio was appointed ambassador on the Italian embassy in Kinshasa in September 2017.
Attanasio was awarded the Nassiriya Worldwide Prize for Peace in October in a ceremony held in a church in southern Italy.
Attanasio was cited for “his dedication geared toward safeguarding peace between peoples” and for “having contributed to the conclusion of essential humanitarian tasks, distinguishing himself for altruism, dedication and the spirit of service for individuals in problem,” mentioned La Repubblica each day in its account of the ceremony.
La Repubblica quoted Attanasio as saying, “All that which we take without any consideration in Italy isn’t in Congo, the place, sadly, there are such a lot of issues to resolve.” Attanasio described the function of the ambassador there’s “above all to be near the Italians but in addition to contribute to attaining peace.” Some 1,000 Italians reside in Congo.