Italy envoy, Carabiniere killed in attack in Congo

Luca Attanasio slain in assault on UN peacekeepers' convoy

(ANSA) - ROME, FEB 22 - Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of 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 died in hospital of gunshot wounds, a high-ranking diplomat told AFP in Kinshasa.
    Iacovacci was aged 30 and had been serving at the Italian embassy in the DRC since September.
    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 the so-far unnamed Carabiniere 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".
    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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