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Italian ambassador among 3 killed in attack on Congo convoy

Ambassador among dead

The Italian ambassador to Congo, an Italian carabineri police officer and their Congolese driver were killed Monday when gunmen attacked a U.N. convoy going to visit a school in eastern Congo, the Italian Foreign Ministry and residents said.

The ambush occurred as the convoy was travelling from Goma, Congo's eastern regional capital, to visit a World Food Program school project in Rutshuru, the U.N. agency said.

The WFP said the attack occurred on a road that had been cleared previously for travel without security escorts, and it was seeking more information from local officials on the attack. Eastern Congo is home to myriad rebel groups all vying for control of the mineral-rich Central African nation.

Luca Attanasio, Italy's ambassador to the country since 2017, carabinieri officer Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver were killed, the Foreign Minister said. Other members of the convoy were injured and taken to a hospital, WFP said.

The attack, a few kilometres north of Goma, was just next to the Virunga National Park. North Kivu Gov. Carly Nzanzu Kasivita said the U.N. vehicles were hijacked by the attackers and taken into the bush. The Congolese army and park guards for Virunga National Park came to help those who had been attacked, he said.

“There was an exchange of fire. The attackers fired at the bodyguard and the ambassador,” the governor said, adding that the ambassador later died from his wounds.

Attanasio, a 43-year-old career diplomat, left behind a wife and three young children.

The attack occurred in the same area where two Britons were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in 2018, said Mambo Kaway, head of a local civil society group.

“The situation is very tense,” he added.



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