Assassination of Luca Attanasio
|Assassination of Luca Attanasio|
|Location||North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|Date||22 February 2021 |
10:15 a.m. (UTC+02:00)
|Attempted kidnapping, ambush, assassination, mass shooting|
|Perpetrators||FDLR (alleged by DRC, denied by the group)|
On 22 February 2021, a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy of three vehicles carrying a total of seven people was attacked by armed individuals. The convoy was travelling in North Kivu, from the province's capital of Goma to a WFP school feeding programme in Rutshuru, a town 70 kilometres north of Goma, on a route that would have taken the vehicles through Virunga National Park. Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio was among three men killed. The attack occurred at 10:15 a.m. local time near the townships of Kibumba and Kanyamahoro. The WFP and North Kivu governor Carly Nzanzu said the convoy did not have a security escort at the time of the attack.
Attanasio was the main target of the attack. As the gunmen attempted to kidnap him a gunfight erupted and the kidnapping failed. The attackers killed two people at the scene, identified as 30-year-old carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci and Congolese United Nations driver Mustapha Milambo. Others travelling in the convoy were also injured. It is unclear if any of the gunmen were captured or killed. Attanasio was shot in the abdomen and hospitalized in critical condition at the Level III Indian Field Hospital in Goma. He died shortly after arrival at the hospital, bringing the total number of deaths resulting from the attack to three.
The bodies of Attanasio and Ianovacci were repatriated to Italy via military aircraft. Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi asked the United Nations and the World Food Programme to open an investigation into the attack. President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Félix Tshisekedi met with Attanasio's widow Zakia Seddiki and said his government had started an investigation in Goma "so that light is shed on these heinous crimes as soon as possible." Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio said "the circumstances of this brutal attack are still unclear and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened."A group of Italian investigators went to Goma in coordination with a prosecutorial investigation that started in Rome. Several Italian newspapers ran front-page tributes to those who were killed; Turin-based La Stampa ran the headline "Luca and Vittorio. The best of Italy." Pope Francis expressed his sorrow "for the disappearance of these servants of peace and law." Congolese authorities accused the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda of the killing; they denied responsibility and condemned the attack.
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