The diplomatic community in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in shock following an attack by unknown gunmen on a United Nations World Food Programme convoy in the Eastern part of the country in which the Italian Ambassador to DRC and two others were killed.
Luca Attanasio, the Italian ambassador to the DRC, who was traveling with the convoy was killed in the morning attack which was first reported as an attempted kidnap by gunmen near the town of Kanyamahoro, a few miles north of the regional capital Goma, according to Virunga National Park officials.
“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 a policeman from the Carabinieri,” the Italian foreign ministry statement said.
“The ambassador and the soldier were travelling in a car in a convoy of Monusco, the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” it said.
In a statement, WFP expressed its deepest sympathy and condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of three people killed, today, in an attack on a delegation travelling on a field visit in the east of the DRC.
“A number of other passengers travelling with the delegation sustained injuries during the attack. The three fatalities have been identified as the Italian Ambassador to DRC, Luca Attanasio, an Italian embassy official, and a WFP driver,”
The delegation was travelling from Goma to visit a WFP school feeding programme in Rutshuru when the incident took place. WFP will work with national authorities to determine the details behind the attack, which occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts,” the UN agency said.
WFP said it is in close contact with the Italian authorities through its offices at its Rome headquarters and in the DRC.
Amb. Attanasio had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019.
Rwanda’s Ambassador to DRC, Vincent Karega, told KT Press that they got the news in the morning with shock and expressed condolences to the family of his deceased Italian counterpart.
“Deepest condolences to his family and our entire diplomatic Corps in Kinshasa-DRC. He was an exceptional and cordial Diplomat with everyone,” Amb. Karega said.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel expressed shock over the attack that claimed the Italian diplomat.
“Shocked by the attack of a convoy of @WFP in #RDC and the lost lives, including those of the Italian ambassador and a policeman. Security and peace must be ensured. The EU will continue to support the DRC and its population,” Charles Michel tweeted.
Photos reportedly from the scene of the attack show a bullet-riddled WFP vehicle which was transporting the Italian envoy, while other graphic images show a wounded person being carried by two men on a pick-up truck. KT Press could not independently verify the authenticity of the images.
In a statement, the Italian Government condemned the killing of Amb. Attanasio and others, calling for an independent investigation into the incident and apprehending the killers immediately. Italy also asked its nationals living in North Kivu to leave immediately.