Italian ambassador, Carabiniere killed in attack in Congo

Luca Attanasio, Vittorio Iacovacci slain in assault on UN peacekeepers' convoy

(ANSA) - ROME, FEB 22 - Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luca Attanasio, and a Carabiniere, Vittorio Iacovacci, were killed in an attack on their UN peacekeeping convoy travelling from Goma to Bukavu in the African country on Monday, well-informed sources told ANSA.
    Attanasio, 43, from Limbiate near Monza, died in hospital of gunshot wounds to the abdomen after arriving in hospital in critical condition, a high-ranking diplomat told AFP in Kinshasa.
    He is survived by his mother, wife and three young daughters.
    Iacovacci was 30 and from Sonnino near Latin south of Rome. He had been serving at the Italian embassy in the DRC since September.
    Iacovacci was stationed with the 13th Carabinieri regiment in Gorizia, In the past, he had served with the crack Folgore regiment.
    The envoy's car was part of a MONUSCO UN peacekeeping mission convoy including the EU's delegation chief, sources said.
    It was attacked with light weapons by a terrorist commando, local sources said.
    The attack was an attempted robbery, rangers at Virunga National Park told various media outlets including The Jerusalem Post.
    The attack took place at around 10 o'clock local (09:00 Italian time), near the town of Kanyamahoro.
    Several armed groups operate in the area of the Virunga Mountains, between Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, and often target the rangers in the park, which is famous for its mountain gorillas.
    The Italian foreign ministry confirmed the killings of Attanasio and the Carabiniere with "deep grief".
    Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio voiced "immense grief" after learning of what happened while he was at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.
    He voiced Italy's grief at the foreign ministers council meeting, before returning from Brussels to Rome.
    He said Italy would make every effort to shed light on the incident.
    He described Attanasio and Iacovacci as "two servants of the State who have been torn (from life) with violence while doing their duty.
    "Today Italy mourns the loss of two of its sons and embraces their families, friends and colleagues at the foreign ministry and in the Carabinieri", he said, adding that he would report to parliament as soon as possible.
    President Sergio Mattarella said the whole of Italy was "in mourning" for the deaths of two brave £servants of he State".
    The Italian premier's office said Premier Mario Draghi voiced the government's deep grief for Attanasio and Iacovacci's tragic deaths and they embraced the two men's relatives, and colleagues at the foreign ministry and in the Carabinieri.
    Draghi is following developments with the utmost attention, the note added.
    The mayor of Sonnino announced a day of mourning for the slain Carabiniere.
    Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini condemned the "cowardly and barbaric attack".
    European Commission spokesperson Eri Mamer said the news of the attack was "extremely concerning, and we are following (the case) closely. The high representative (for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell), has conveyed his condolences to Italy. The (Italian) foreign minister is sharing information with his EU colleagues".
    The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO, an acronym based on its French name, is a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which was established by the United Nations Security Council to monitor the peace process of the Second Congo War, though much of its focus subsequently turned to the Ituri conflict, the Kivu conflict and the Dongo conflict.
    The area has been racked by armed conflict for years. (ANSA).


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