Officials from the United Nations condemned an attack against a joint field mission of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Kibumba, near Goma, North Kivu.
Three people, including the Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luca Attanasio, were killed in the incident.
An unspecified number of passengers who had traveled with the team were also injured.
The delegation was traveling from Goma to visit a WFP school feeding program in Rutshuru when the attack happened.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to the Congolese government to promptly investigate the “heinous” attack even as he pledged the organization’s support to restore peace and stability in the restive eastern region.
I strongly condemn the attack against a @WFP joint field mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which resulted in the killing of the Italian Ambassador to the country, his bodyguard & a WFP colleague.
The perpetrators must be brought to justice. https://t.co/HnlwbHLA6o
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) February 22, 2021
WFP Executive Director David Beasley said the attack was a “reminder of the dangers that our humanitarian colleagues and our partners experience on a daily basis to help others in need.”
Today, tragedy struck in DRC. The Italian Ambassador, his colleague and one of our own, a @WFP employee, were killed during an attack while travelling to visit a WFP program. Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones during this difficult time.https://t.co/fNSbK7XGD3
— David Beasley (@WFPChief) February 22, 2021
The Director-General of the UN migration agency (IOM) António Vitorino condemned the attack which left him “horrified”.
Horrified by the killing of the Italian Ambassador, a member of his team and a staff member from @WFP today in an ambush in The Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Condolences from all of us in IOM to the families and colleagues of the victims of this senseless crime.
— António Vitorino (@IOMchief) February 22, 2021
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, echoed Guterres’ comments in calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
I strongly condemn today's attack on vehicles of @WFP near Goma, DR Congo,which resulted in killing of Italian Ambassador, his colleague & @WFPDRC staff member. My deepest condolences to their families, and to Govts of Italy & DRC &WFP. Perpetrators need to be brought to justice.
— Jean-Pierre Lacroix (@Lacroix_UN) February 23, 2021
Congolese authorities accused rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) movement as being responsible for the ambush.
However, the Hutu militia which is active close to the area where the attack happened denied any involvement in what it described as a “cowardly assassination”.
“The FDLR declare that they are in no way involved in the attack,” the group said in a statement.