Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was among three individuals killed on Monday when a UN convoy was assailed in the country’s distressed east, violence the DRC’s president called a “terrorist attack” and that was blamed on a Rwandan Hutu rebel group.
Luca Attanasio passed away of his injuries after a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy came under shooting near Goma while he was on an excursion to check out a school feeding programme, according to a senior diplomatic source in Kinshasa and the WFP.
The Italian government verified Attanasio’s death and stated an Italian police officer, Vittorio Iacovacci, and a chauffeur it did not determine, had likewise died.
UN peacekeepers and Congolese troops released to the rural area in Kibumba where the attack happened, walking a dirt track between overgrown brush as they prepared to recover bodies and find the assaulters.
Map of DR Congo locating Goma AFP/ STAFF
A white WFP car had at least one broken window and residents looked on as soldiers made their way through the brush.
A merchant in the area stated he saw a body on the ground.
The foes were “keeping up the people who remained in the cars, in the buses,” Julien Amani Kiza told AFP.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella validated what he called a “afraid attack.”
Ambassador Luca Attanasio, in an undated image released by the Italian foreign ministry ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY/ Handout
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio revealed his “terrific dismay and enormous grief”, breaking off from a Brussels conference with EU equivalents to go back to Rome.
In a statement, the DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi stated he “condemns really strongly this terrorist attack” and promised an inquiry.
Earlier, the interior ministry had actually blamed the killings on “members of the Democratic Forces for the Freedom of Rwanda (FDLR),” a Rwandan Hutu rebel group that has pestered the area for more than a quarter of a century.
Four individuals were abducted, one of whom was later found, the ministry said.
Moroccan troops with the UN peacekeeping objective MONUSCO released on a roadway in the Kibumba location in the Virunga National Park, 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Goma, after the attack AFP/ ALEXIS HUGUET
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen revealed “shock” at the attack, in an area “where the population suffers unacceptable violence”.
Attanasio, 43, had actually been representing Italy in Kinshasa since 2017, first as head of mission, and then as ambassador from October 2019.
IMAGESImages of the Italian embassy in Kinshasa after Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was eliminated when a UN convoy came under attack in the country’s troubled east. AFPTV/ Junior KANNAH
The envoy suffered “gunshot wounds to the abdominal area” and was required to a medical facility in Goma in important condition, a diplomat in Kinshasa stated.
A large country the size of continental western Europe, the DRC is coming to grips with many conflicts, particularly in its remote, mineral-rich east.
Scores of militias wander the 4 eastern provinces, a number of them a tradition of wars in the 1990s that sucked in nations around central-southern Africa and declared countless lives.
According to a United States monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), 122 armed groups were active in North and South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika provinces last year.
More than 2,000 civilians were killed, according to UN figures released recently.
Outdoors UN health center and base after Italian ambassador killed in attack AFPTV/ STRINGER
Monday’s attack happened north of the North Kivu capital of Goma, in Nyiaragongo Area– among the most harmful parts of the nation.
The FDLR is among a number of armed groups operating there.
A few of the group’s founders were associated with the 1994 Rwandan genocide during which the Hutu bulk butchered 800,000 individuals, mainly Tutsis however likewise Hutu moderates.
The group is opposed to the present Rwandan government, but has not launched any massive offensive in Rwanda because 2001.
In April last year, the FDLR was blamed for killing 12 rangers in the Virunga National Forest, a UNESCO-listed wildlife reserve that is house to critically threatened mountain gorillas.
Another group in the location north of Goma is a Congolese Tutsi group also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army, which caught Goma in 2012-2013.
The WFP stated Attanasio had actually been on a fact-finding objective with it.
” The delegation was taking a trip from Goma to visit a WFP school feeding program in Rutshuru when the occurrence took place,” it said in a statement.
” The attack … occurred on a roadway that had actually formerly been cleared for travel without security escorts.”
However the DRC interior ministry stated the security services and provincial authorities had actually not been provided advance caution and was unable to supply security for that reason.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres released a statement advising the DRC to swiftly examine a “heinous targeting” of a UN objective.
A UN Security Council declaration condemned the attack, and “highlighted the need to bring wrongdoers of these acts to justice”.
Attanasio joined the Italian diplomatic service in 2003 and had formerly served in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria.
He was hailed as “a male gifted with uncommon courage, humankind and professionalism” by Emanuela Del Re, Italy’s deputy foreign minister from 2018 until last month.
Attanasio is the 2nd European ambassador to have actually been eliminated while serving in the DRC.
In January 1993, French ambassador Philippe Bernard was killed throughout riots in Kinshasa stimulated by soldiers opposing totalitarian Mobutu Sese Seke.