Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was killed on Monday when a UN convoy came under attack in the troubled east, DRC sources and the government in Rome said.
Luca Attanasio died of his wounds after a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy came under fire near Goma, a senior diplomatic source said in Kinshasa.
Two other people also died in the attack, Major Guillaume Djike, the army’s spokesman in North Kivu province told AFP. Other sources said the two were the envoy’s driver and bodyguard.
Attanasio’s death was confirmed in Rome by the Italian foreign ministry, which also said an Italian policeman died.
Attanasio, who had been appointed to the DRC in early 2018, suffered “gunshot wounds to the abdomen” and was taken to a hospital in Goma in critical condition, the diplomat in Kinshasa said.
The DRC’s army said its troops were searching the area for the assailants.
A vast country the size of continental western Europe, the DRC is grappling with numerous conflicts, especially in its remote, mineral-rich east.
Scores of militias roam the four eastern provinces, many of them a legacy of wars in the 1990s that sucked in countries around central-southern Africa and claimed millions of lives.
Monday’s attack occurred north of Goma — a region that includes the UNESCO-listed Virunga National Park, which has also been troubled by violence.
The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, said last week that more than 2,000 civilians were killed in North and South Kivu and Ituri last year.