Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Luca Attanasio was killed when a UN convoy came under attack in the troubled east on Monday.
The World Food Programme (WFP) convoy came under fire near Goma while Luca Attanasio was on a field trip to the region.
Two other people died were were the envoy’s driver and bodyguard. Some other passenger got injured. The ambassador’s was confirmed by the Italy’s foreign ministry.
The President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella condemned the “cowardly attack and Mario Draghi the Prime Minister of Italy offered his deepest condolences.
Luca Attanasio was Italian ambassador in Kinshasa since 2017. According to the Italy’s foreign ministry Attanasio joined the diplomatic service in 2003 and earlier served in Switzerland, Morocco and Nigeria.
Attanasio suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen and was taken in critical condition to a hospital in Goma.
Democratic Republic of Congo’s armies were searching the assault area for the assailants.
Congo is grappling with numerous conflicts, especially in its remote, mineral-rich east.
Many militias roam the four eastern provinces, many of them a legacy of wars in the 1990s that sucked in countries around central-southern Africa which claimed millions of lives.
As per Italian foreign ministry, the Italian ambassador was with a convoy of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo.
The United Nation delegation was traveling from Goma to visit a WFP school feeding program in Rutshuru when the attack took place.
The attack took place on a road in north of Goma, in Nyiaragongo Territory that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts.
The area is full of armed groups like Rwandan Hutu militia called the FDLR, and M23, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army.
The UNESCO-listed Virunga National Park, a vast wildlife reserve that is home to one fourth population in the world of critically endangered mountain gorillas is located in the region. More than 200 park’s rangers have been killed in attacks happening for more than 10 years.
According to UNHCR, more than 2,000 civilians were killed in North and South Kivu and Ituri province last year.
Attanasio is the 2nd European ambassador killed in Congo after French ambassador Philippe Bernard was killed during riots in Kinshasa that were sparked by troops opposing dictator Mobutu Sese Seke.