Italian ambassador to Kinshasa, Luca Attanasio, was shot dead in an armed attack on a World Food Program (WFP) convoy during a visit near Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.
The ambassador “Died as a result of his injuries”, told the agency AFP , cited by the agency Lusa, a diplomatic source in Kinshasa. Two other people were also killed in the attack, according to Army spokesman in the North Kivu region, Major Guillaume Djike, who did not reveal the identity of the victims.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella denounced the “cowardly attack” that claimed the life of the ambassador, Italian soldier Vittorio Iacovacci and his driver. “The Italian republic is in mourning for these State servants who lost their lives in the exercise of their functions”, he pointed out, lamenting the “act of violence” perpetrated against a PAM convoy.
Attanasio, who has served as ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo since early 2018, was “shot in the abdomen” and transported “in critical condition” to a hospital in Goma, a diplomatic source told AFP.
The Congolese army said, however, that “the Congolese Armed Forces are trying to find out who the aggressors are ”.
The European Union (EU) has already reacted and is following “closely”, at the level of heads of diplomacy, the “terrible news” of the attack that resulted in the death of the Italian ambassador.
During the daily press conference of the community executive, Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said that he had just heard about the “terrible news” and added that the matter is already being discussed by EU foreign ministers, who are meeting in person in Brussels.
According to a spokeswoman for the European External Action Service, the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, reported on what happened at the Foreign Affairs Council currently taking place in Brussels, and “presents his condolences to Italy at United Nations and victims of violence in Congo ”.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, was also “shocked” by the attack. “Shocked by the attack on a WFP convoy in the Democratic Republic of Congo and by the lives lost, including that of the Italian ambassador and a military man”, he reacted, through his official Twitter account.
The attack on the WFP train took place north of Goma, the capital of the province of North Kivu, which has been plagued by violence by armed groups for over 25 years.
This region, which hosts the Virunga National Park, is also the scene of conflict in North Kivu, where dozens of armed groups are fighting for control of the soil and subsoil wealth. Created in 1925, the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It extends over 7,769 km2, from Goma to the territory of Beni, between mountains and forests.