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The body of the Italian ambassador killed in an attack in the DRC repatriated to Italy

A military plane, a Boeing KC-767, took off at 4:20 p.m. (3:20 p.m. HB) from Goma airport, the capital of North Kivu, with the bodies of the two Italians on board, found a team of the ‘..

Ambassador Luca Attanasio, 43, died after being shot and wounded when the World Food Program (WFP) convoy he was traveling in was ambushed in the province of North Kivu (East), near the border with Rwanda. His Italian bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci and a Congolese PAM driver, Moustapha Milambo, were also killed.

The bodies of the two Italians, arrived in metal crates aboard vehicles of the United Nations Mission in the DRC (Monusco), were placed in a hangar before being placed in the two coffins wrapped in the Italian flag.

In Kinshasa, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi and his wife Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi went to the ambassador’s residence for “a consolation visit” to his widow and to the young orphans.

In Rome, Pope Francis sent a message of condolence to the Head of State, Sergio Mattarella, deploring the “tragic attack” which claimed the lives of three people.

Emphasizing “the human and Christian qualities” of the ambassador, Pope Francis described the two deceased Italians as “servants of peace and law”.

North Kivu is considered one of the most dangerous areas in the DRC, on the edge of the Virunga National Park (PNVI). But according to aid officials, the road the convoy was traveling on did not require an escort.

The Congolese authorities on Monday accused the Rwandan Hutu rebels of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), installed in eastern DRC, of ​​being responsible for the attack, described as “terrorist” by Mr. Tshisekedi.

But in a statement sent to . and the Belga agency, the FDLR denied being involved: they “ask the Congolese authorities and MONUSCO (UN Mission in the DRC) to shed light on the responsibilities of this despicable assassination instead of resorting to hasty accusations “.

The Rwandan rebels claim that “the ambassador’s convoy was attacked in an area known as the + three antennae +, near Goma on the border with Rwanda, not far from a position of the FARDC (Armed Forces of the DRC) and (…) Rwandan Defense Forces “(Rwandan army).

“The responsibilities of this despicable assassination are to be found in the ranks of these two armies”, accuse the rebels.

The FDLR, created in the early 2000s to fight the Kigali regime, is one of the many formidable armed groups that threaten civilians in eastern Congolese on a daily basis. Some of the founders of the FDLR participated in the genocide of the Tutsi in April-July 1994 in Rwanda, before taking refuge in the DRC, permanently destabilizing the region.

According to an expert from the Kivu Security Barometer (KST), “the FDLR are close to where the attack took place. It is possible that these Rwandan rebels are responsible for this attack,” he said. explained to ..

The attack on the convoy in which the ambassador was traveling took place on the national road 2 which runs very closely along the Rwandan border, in an area of ​​dense and mountainous forest, where the borders are not watertight.

The Congolese and Rwandan authorities systematically deny any presence of Rwandan troops on the territory of the DRC.

According to the Congolese presidency, the convoy was ambushed 3 km from their destination, the commune of Kiwanja, in the territory of Rutshuru, when “the attackers, six in number, armed with five AK-47 weapons as well. than a machete “burst in. “They fired warning shots before forcing the occupants of the vehicles to get off and follow them into the far end of the park (Virunga) and this, after having shot one of the drivers in order to create panic” , adds the presidency.

Alerted, the rangers and the Congolese soldiers present in the surroundings started in pursuit of the attackers. “At 500 m (from the scene of the attack), the kidnappers shot point blank at the bodyguard (Italian), who died on the spot, and at the ambassador, wounding him in the abdomen”.

According to a WFP press release, the deputy director of this agency for the DRC, Rocco Leone, was also in the attacked convoy.

Mr. Attanasio had been Ambassador to the DRC since October 2019.

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