Rome- Italy mourns today the assassination of its ambassador, Luca Atanasio, near Goma, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in an armed attack on a United Nations convoy in which a policeman and a driver were also killed. They were traveling in.
The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, wrote in a statement expressing his “dissatisfaction with the news of this matter, that Italy is in mourning for these state employees who lost their lives in the performance of their professional duties.” Despicable attack. “
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio confirmed that the government is working to bring the bodies back home as quickly as possible, and that it will “spare no effort to explain what happened,” before announcing that he will go to Parliament “to report as soon as possible.” Of the attack that shocked the country. .
The Foreign Ministry also confirmed the Italian ambassador In the Democratic Republic of the Congo The boat was on a convoy of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
They were ambushed about 20 km from Goma around 10:00 am (9:00 GMT), without the perpetrators of the attack knowing at this time.
Initial investigations indicate that the attack may have been an attempt to kidnap UN personnel, although it is not excluded that it was the work of the jihadist Islamic State group, which has already claimed the presence of others in that country.
In the area is the Virunga National Park, on the border between Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, and there are several armed groups operating there.
According to Italian media, seven people were traveling in two vehicles belonging to the World Food Program, including several officials from the Italian embassy and also from a delegation from the European Union, when an armed group attacked them.
The ambassador sustained a stomach wound and was taken in critical condition to Goma Hospital, where he died.
Atanasio, 43, married and father of three daughters, took over the leadership of the mission in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in September 2017, where he was implementing many humanitarian projects.
In October 2020, he was awarded the Nassiriya International Peace Prize for his “commitment to protecting peace between peoples.”
The other two are policeman Vittorio Iacovaci, 30, and the driver of the car, who has not been identified.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi expressed his “deepest condolences,” and the foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, admitted his “deep pain” in the news he learned while at a meeting in Brussels.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and the Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha Fernandez Laia, also showed their solidarity.
The northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plunged into a long conflict for years, fueled by dozens of national and foreign rebel armed groups, despite the presence of the Congolese army and the forces of Monusco, which has more than 15,000 soldiers deployed in the country.
In 2020, Italy deployed nearly 7,300 military personnel abroad, in 35 missions from 24 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The main units are located in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, Niger and Somalia.