San Francisco Chronicle
Italian ambassador among 3 killed in ambush attack
KINSHASA, Congo — The Italian ambassador to Congo, an Italian carabineri police officer and their Congolese driver were killed Monday in an attack on a U.N. convoy in an area that is home to myriad rebel groups, the Foreign Ministry said.
The ambush occurred as the convoy was traveling from Goma, Congo’s eastern regional capital, to visit a World Food Program school aid project in Rutshuru, the U.N. agency said in a statement.
WFP said it was seeking information from local authorities, as the ambush occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts.
Ambassador Luca Attanasio, Italy’s ambassador to the country since 2017, carabinieri officer Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver Moustapha Milambo were killed. Other members of the convoy were injured, WFP said.
The attack occurred in the territory of Nyiragongo, in North Kivu, the same area, known as the “three antennas,” where two Britons were kidnapped by unidentified armed men in 2018, said Mambo Kaway, president of a local civil society group.
“There were five people aboard the vehicle, including the Italian ambassador,” Kaway said. “The situation is very tense.”
The North Kivu governor, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, said the vehicles were taken hostage and escorted into the bush and that when local people saw them, they alerted the authorities. The Congolese army and guards for Virunga National Park responded, he said.
“There was an exchange of fire. The attackers fired at the bodyguard and the ambassador,” the governor said.
More than 2,000 civilians were killed last year in eastern Congo in violence by armed groups whose brutal attacks using machetes and heavy weapons have also displaced millions in what the United Nations calls one of the worst humanitarian crises as attacks ramp up this year.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Mario Draghi expressed their condolences to the families of the victims. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio vowed to ascertain who was responsible for killing “exemplary” Italians as they did their jobs.
Congo’s east is home to many rebel groups all vying for control of the mineralrich land.