San Francisco Chronicle

Ital­ian am­bas­sador among 3 killed in am­bush at­tack

- By Jean­Yves Ka­male and Ni­cole Win­field Jean­Yves Ka­male and Ni­cole Win­field are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers. Crime · Terrorism · Disasters · Incidents · Politics · Kinshasa · Democratic Republic of Congo · United Nations · World Food Programme · Italy · Sergio Mattarella · Mario Draghi · Goma · Rutshuru · Virunga National Park · Luigi Di Maio

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.

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