Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been killed in an attack on a United Nations (UN) convoy in the African country’s troubled east.
The Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Luca Attanasio had been shot dead near the eastern city of Goma while traveling in a car with a convoy of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo.
An Italian policeman and a driver were also killed in the ambush.
“It is with deep sorrow that the Foreign Ministry confirms the death today in Goma of the Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, and of a policeman from the Carabinieri,” the foreign ministry statement said.
“The ambassador and the soldier were traveling in a car in a convoy of MONUSCO, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
The 43-year-old Attanasio had been Italy's head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019. He had previously served in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi offering his "deepest condolences," and President Sergio Mattarella condemning the assault as “cowardly.”
The European Commission also expressed concern over the situation in the African country.
Goma, in the DRC’s Nyiaragongo Territory, is home to numerous armed groups including a Rwandan Hutu militia called the FDLR, as well as the M23, also known as the so-called Congolese Revolutionary Army.
Attanasio is the second European ambassador to have been killed while serving in the DRC.
In January 1993, French Ambassador Philippe Bernard was killed during riots in Kinshasa instigated by troops opposing former dictator Mobutu Sese Seke.