Italian Ambassador Killed In DR Congo Attack

Moroccan peacekeepers from MONUSCO (The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) are stuck in the mud on the outskirts of Jina village, in the Djugu Region, on September 14, 2020. - In northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in the Djugu region, Ituri Province, Jina and surrounding villages have been repeatedly attacked. Since the end of 2017, the conflict in Ituri has resulted in several hundred deaths and more than one and a half million displaced persons. Most of the massacres are attributed to armed militias belonging to the Lendu community and claiming to defend themselves against the Congolese army and the Hema community. (Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP) (Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP via Getty Images)
A UN convoy travels along a muddy road in eastern Congo’s Ituri Province on September 14, 2020. Italy’s ambassador to the country was killed in an ambush while traveling in a UN convoy further to the south. (Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP, via Getty Images)

Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was killed on Monday when a UN convoy came under attack in the troubled east, DRC sources and the government in Rome said.

Luca Attanasio died of his wounds after a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy came under fire near Goma, a senior diplomatic source said in Kinshasa.

Two other people also died in the attack, Major Guillaume Djike, the army’s spokesman in North Kivu province told AFP. Other sources said the two were the envoy’s driver and bodyguard.

Attanasio’s death was confirmed in Rome by the Italian foreign ministry, which also said an Italian policeman died.

Attanasio, who had been appointed to the DRC in early 2018, suffered “gunshot wounds to the abdomen” and was taken to a hospital in Goma in critical condition, the diplomat in Kinshasa said.

The DRC’s army said its troops were searching the area for the assailants.

A vast country the size of continental western Europe, the DRC is grappling with numerous conflicts, especially in its remote, mineral-rich east.

Scores of militias roam the four eastern provinces, many of them a legacy of wars in the 1990s that sucked in countries around central-southern Africa and claimed millions of lives.

Monday’s attack occurred north of Goma — a region that includes the UNESCO-listed Virunga National Park, which has also been troubled by violence.

The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, said last week that more than 2,000 civilians were killed in North and South Kivu and Ituri last year.

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