Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and two other people were killed on Monday in an attack on a UN convoy in eastern Congo, Italy’s foreign ministry and park officials said.
The convoy was attacked at 10.15 (0815 GMT) during a kidnapping attempt by attackers near the town of Kanyamahoro, a few kilometers north of the regional capital Goma, Virunga National Park told Reuters.
Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio and a military policeman traveling with him were killed, the Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The park had previously said that two people in the convoy had been killed and the ambassador injured. The third person killed was a driver, diplomatic sources said.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. There was no immediate claim to liability.
“It is with deep sadness that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms the death today in Goma of the Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luca Attanasio, and of a police officer from Carabinieri,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The ambassador and the soldier were traveling in a car in a convoy of MONUSCO, the UN’s organizational stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” it said.
Tragic notice of the assassination attempt on a UNU Goma convocation in which the Italian Ambassador in #Congo Luca Attanasio and a carabinieri were present. Condoglianze alle loro famiglie e all’Arma dei Carabinieri pic.twitter.com/9uF2ncrFaa
– Giovanni Toti (@GiovanniToti) February 22, 2021
According to the ministry’s website, Attanasio had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and became ambassador in 2019.
Dozens of armed groups work in and around Virunga, which lies along the Congolese border with Rwanda and Uganda. Park guards have been repeatedly attacked, including six who were killed in an ambush last month.