The Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Luca Attanasio has been killed by unknown assailants following an attack on the UN convoy in which he was traveling.
According to a statement by the Italian foreign Minister, Attanasio was killed together with a military policeman at around 10:15am (08:15 GMT) on Monday during an attempted kidnap by assailants near the town of Kanyamahoro, a few kilometres (miles) north of the regional capital Goma.
“It is with deep sorrow that the Foreign Ministry confirms the death today in Goma of the Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, and of a policemen from the Carabinieri,” the foreign ministry statement said.
In a separate statement, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his great dismay and immense sorrow over the loss of his fellow countrymen.
“The circumstances of this brutal attack are not yet known and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened,” Di Maio said, paying tribute to the victims as “two servants of the state”.
According to the foreign ministry, the ambassador and the policemen were part of a convoy of MONUSCO, the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Meanwhile, no group has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack so far.
According to the Italian ministry website, Attanasio had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019. He joined the diplomatic service in 2003 and served previously in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria.
Dozens of armed groups operate in and around Virunga, which lies along Congo’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda.