Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo Luca Attanasio, 43, died on Monday (22) after an attack on the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) convoy during a visit to the Goma region , according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. European country affairs.
The Congolese authorities blamed the Rwandan Hutu rebels. Italian President Sergio Mattarella called the attack a coward and Chancellor Luigi Di Maio, who was in Brussels, announced an immediate return to Rome to follow the case.
The WFP convoy was heading north of Goma, the main town in North Kivu, in the east of the country, when it was the target of a shooting attack by unknown people around 9 a.m. local time (6 morning hours in Brasilia). Two cars transported, without an escort from Monusco, a UN mission present in the African country for 20 years, according to a source of the mission.
According to the United Nations program, they would visit a food program at a school in Rutshuru. WFP said in a statement it would work with local authorities to uncover details of the attack, as the road had been cleared for unescorted movement.
Attanasio, in office since October 2019, died of his injuries, a diplomatic source told AFP news agency in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He sustained serious injuries to his abdomen and was even taken to hospital in critical condition.
Congolese train driver Mustapha Milambo and ambassador’s bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci also died in the attack. Four other people were kidnapped. One has already been found by Congolese army soldiers, according to a statement from the African country’s Interior Ministry. The attack also left two injured, according to WFP.
According to the text, the soldiers targeted members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR). “The Congolese Armed Forces are in the region to find the criminals,” the army said.
Near the attack site are the strongholds of the FDLR and Congolese Hutu militias, Nyatura. Congolese rebels from the M-23 group are also operating in the region, according to an expert from Kivu.
The FDLR was created in the early 2000s by Rwandan Hutu rebels, some of whom participated in the Tutsi genocide from April to July 1994 in neighboring Rwanda, before taking refuge in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The country’s president, Felix Tshisekedi, condemned what he called a terrorist attack, according to his spokesperson. European Council President Charles Michel said he was shocked by the attack and the lives lost. “The EU [União Europeia] will be alongside the DRC and its people for security and peace, ”he wrote on Twitter.
Attanasio is the second acting European Ambassador to be shot dead in the African country. Frenchman Philippe Bernard died in the riots that led to looting in Kinshasa in January 1993.