ROMA.- Italy is today mourning the assassination of its ambassador Luca Attanasio near Goma, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in an armed attack against a United Nations convoy in which a policeman and the driver were also killed. of the car they were traveling in.
“Italy is in mourning for these servants of the State who lost their lives in the performance of their professional duties,” wrote the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, in a statement in which he expressed his “dismay at the news of this vile attack”.
The Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, assured that the Government is working to repatriate the bodies as soon as possible and that “they will spare no effort to clarify what happened”, before announcing that he will go to Parliament to “report as soon as possible” of an attack that has shocked the country.
As confirmed by Foreign Affairs, the Italian ambassador in the DRC and the carabinier were aboard a convoy of the mission of the United Nations stabilization organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
They were ambushed some 20 kilometers from Goma, around 10:00 am (9:00 GMT), without the perpetrators of the attack being known for the moment.
The first investigations suggest that the attack could have been an attempt to kidnap UN personnel, although it is not ruled out that it is an action by the jihadist group Islamic State, which has already claimed others in that country.
In the area is the Virunga National Park, on the border between Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, and several armed groups operate there.
According to Italian media, seven people were traveling in two World Food Program vehicles, including several officials from the Italian Embassy and also from a delegation from the European Union, when they were attacked by an armed group.
The ambassador suffered a wound to the abdomen and was transferred in critical condition to the Goma hospital, where he died.
Attanasio, 43, married with three daughters, had become head of mission in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC, in September 2017, where he was carrying out numerous humanitarian projects.
In October 2020, he had received the Nassiriya International Peace Prize “for his commitment to safeguarding peace among peoples”.
The other two deceased are the policeman Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, and the driver of the car, whose identity has not been revealed.
The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, has expressed his “deepest condolences” and also the Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, has confessed his “immense pain” at the news, which he learned while he was in a meeting in Brussels.
The High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union (EU), Josep Borrell, and the Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha Fernández Laya, have also shown their solidarity.
The northeast of the DRC has been mired in a long conflict for years, fueled by dozens of national and foreign rebel armed groups, despite the presence of the Congolese Army and MONUSCO forces, which has more than 15,000 troops deployed in the country.
In 2020, Italy deployed approximately 7,300 military personnel abroad, in 35 missions from 24 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The main contingents are present in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, Niger and Somalia.
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