Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday denounced the “cowardly attack” that claimed the life of his ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Luca Attanasio, an Italian military man Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver.
“The Italian Republic is in mourning for these servants of the State who lost their lives in the exercise of their functions”, added Sergio Mattarella, deploring “the act of violence” perpetrated. Ambassador Luca Attanasio, 43, “died of his gunshot wounds”, a senior diplomatic source in Kinshasa told AFP. The Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed shortly after, expressing its “deep sadness”.
On a field visit with the World Food Program (WFP) to the north of Goma, capital of North Kivu, the ambassador and his convoy were targeted by unidentified armed men around 10:15 a.m., according to the diplomat from high rank. Seriously “shot in the abdomen”, the ambassador was evacuated to a hospital in Goma “in critical condition”, before succumbing to his injuries, he told AFP.
Two other people were also killed during the attack on the convoy, for his part, Major Guillaume Djike, army spokesman in the North Kivu region, told AFP. The other two victims are said to be the Congolese driver and the ambassador’s bodyguard, according to several sources.
The ambassador was traveling by car “in a Monusco convoy”, the United Nations mission present in the DRC for more than twenty years, said the press release from the Italian ministry. The victims were in a convoy of two WFP vehicles, without MONUSCO presence, said a source from the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUSCO).
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who was in Brussels for a meeting with his European counterparts, announced his early return to Rome. The President of the European Council Charles Michel said he was “shocked by the attack on a convoy” and “the lives lost” “The EU will stand by the DRC and its people” for “security and peace” , he added on Twitter, offering his condolences to the family in Italian.
A long career as a diplomat
Luca Attanasio had been ambassador to the DRC since October 2019, after arriving in the country two years earlier as head of mission, according to his official biography. He entered a diplomatic career at the end of 2003, after studying business at the Luigi Bocconi University of Milan. He started in the Department of Economic Affairs, before working on African issues and international cooperation.
Abroad, he was first head of the economic and commercial section at the Bern embassy (2006-2010), then consul general in Casablanca, Morocco (2010-2013). After a visit to Rome, he also became a counselor at the Italian Embassy in Nigeria in 2015. The attack on this WFP convoy took place in the territory of Nyiaragongo, north of Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province plagued by violence from dozens of armed groups for more than 25 years.