Luca Attanasio

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Luca Attanasio
Luca Attanasio.jpg
Italian Ambassador to
the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In office
5 September 2017 – 22 February 2021
Preceded byLuigi Scotto
Personal details
Born(1977-05-23)23 May 1977
Saronno, Lombardy, Italy
Died22 February 2021(2021-02-22) (aged 43)
Goma, North Kivu, DR Congo
Cause of deathGunshot wounds
Spouse(s)Zakia Seddiki (m. 2015)[1]
Alma materBocconi University

Luca Attanasio (23 May 1977 – 22 February 2021) was an Italian diplomat who served as the ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2017 until his death there in February 2021.[2]

Early life[edit]

Attanasio was born on 23 May 1977 in Saronno, Lombardy, Italy, to father Salvatore Attanasio.[1][3] He grew up in Limbiate, Lombardy.[3] He graduated with honors at Bocconi University in 2001.[4]


Attanasio started his diplomatic career in 2003, at the Farnesina, as Directorate for Economic Affairs, Business Support Office, and then to the secretariat of the Directorate General for Africa.[4] A year later he became deputy head secretariat of the undersecretary of state with responsibility for Africa and International Cooperation.[4] Attanasio started his diplomatic career outside Italy in 2006, serving as the Economic and Commercial Office at the Italian Embassy in Bern (2006–2010) and the Regent Consul General in Casablanca, Morocco (2010–2013).[4] In 2013 he returned to the Farnesina where he was appointed Head of the Secretariat of the Directorate General for Globalization and Global Affairs. He then returned to Africa as first counselor at the Italian embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2015. From 5 September 2017 until his death he was head of mission in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. From 31 October 2019 he was confirmed on site as an Extraordinary Plenipotentiary Ambassador accredited in the DRC.[5][6] In October 2020, he was awarded the Nassiriya International Prize for Peace.[7][8] Attanasio was one of Italy's youngest ambassadors.[9]


At 10:30 am on 22 February 2021,[2] a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy of three vehicles, carrying a total of seven people,[10] of the MONUSCO, the United Nations mission for the stabilization of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which Attanasio was travelling, was attacked by six armed individuals.[11] 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 (43 mi) north of Goma, on a route that would have taken the vehicles through Virunga National Park.[10] The attack occurred near the townships of Kibumba,[12] and Kanyamahoro.[2] The WFP has stated the attack occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts.[13]

Attanasio was the main target of the attack.[14] As the gunmen attempted to kidnap him, they opened fire, killing Mustapha Milambo, the Congolese UN driver.[15][10][2] Then they threatened the six other members of the convoy and brought them to the nearby forest.[16] As local security forces were arriving at the scene following the report of shots fired, the gunmen killed 30-year-old carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci and mortally wounded Attanasio. The attackers then kidnapped three of the hostages and fled the scene, while a third Italian national escaped unharmed.[17][13] Attanasio was hospitalized in critical condition at the UN Hospital in Goma, but died there an hour later after his admission due to gunshot wounds to his abdomen,[15][2][18] bringing the total number of deaths resulting from the attack to three.[2][19] Attanasio was the first foreign ambassador to be killed in the DRC since 1993, and the first Italian ambassador killed while serving his term.[18]

The state funerals for both Attanasio and Iacovacci were held on 25 February 2021, at the Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome.[20]

The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda were accused of being behind the attack by local authorities. However, the group denied any responsibility and condemned the attack, calling it 'ignoble'.[21]

On 5 March 2021, Mwilanya Asani William, the attorney who was investigating the murder of Attanasio and the two other men, was murdered by unknown gunmen during an ambush.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Attanasio was married to Zakia Seddiki, a Morocco-born woman from Casablanca, since 2015. She is the president of a Congolese non-governmental organization providing assistance to women and children.[1][7] They had three daughters.[3][5][7]

While living in Morocco, where he served as the Italian Consul General, Attanasio gave shahada, taking the Muslim name Amir, as his wife was Muslim.[23][24] However, Attanasio himself was of Roman Catholic faith, according to Limbiate parish priest Angelo Gornati.[24] After his death, several Muslim communities observed a Salat al-gha'ib, or absentee funeral prayer, for him and Milambo.[23] Baraa Al Obeidi, imam of Milan's Maria Mosque, said Attanasio should be considered a martyr by the Muslim community, as he was an innocent killed due to his humanitarian work.[23]


  1. ^ a b c Pianigiani, Gaia (23 February 2021). "Italy Mourns an Ambassador and His Bodyguard, Killed in Congo". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Italian ambassador to DR Congo dies in attack on UN convoy". the Guardian. 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Chi erano Luca Attanasio e Vittorio Iacovacci". Il Giorno (in Italian). 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d "Luca Attanasio, chi era l'ambasciatore morto in Congo: era tra i diplomatici italiani più giovani nel mondo". Il Messaggero (in Italian). 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Luca Attanasio: Italian ambassador killed in Congo during kidnap attempt". The Independent. 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  6. ^ Caprara, Maurizio (22 February 2021). "Luca Attanasio, chi era l'ambasciatore ucciso in Congo". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "L'ambassadeur italien en RDC tué dans une attaque : ce que l'on sait". L'Express (in French). 22 February 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  8. ^ Kamale, Jean-Yves; Winfield, Nicole (22 February 2021). "Three killed, including Italian ambassador, in Congo attack". Associated Press. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  9. ^ "Premio Nassiriya per la Pace a Luca Attanasio, ambasciatore italiano in Congo". la Repubblica. 13 October 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Specia, Megan; Pianigiani, Gaia (22 February 2021). "Italian Ambassador Among Three Killed in Attack on U.N. Convoy in Congo". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  11. ^ "L'ambasciatore Luca Attanasio e il carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci uccisi in agguato in Congo. Mattarella: "Lutto per servitori dello Stato"". Il Fatto Quotidiano (in Italian). 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  12. ^ @MONUSCO (22 February 2021). "L'attaque a eu lieu à Kibumba, à 25 kilomètres au nord-est de Goma, dans la province du Nord-Kivu" (Tweet) (in French) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ a b "Attack on World Food Programme field mission in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo | World Food Programme". Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  14. ^ "Attentato in RD Congo: morto ambasciatore italiano Luca Attanasio, uccisi anche un carabiniere e l'autista". Fanpage (in Italian). 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  15. ^ a b Rome, Jeremy Kelly, Kinshasa | Tom Kington. "Italian ambassador among three killed in Congolese ambush". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  16. ^ "Congo, uccisi l'ambasciatore italiano Luca Attanasio, un carabiniere della scorta e l'autista – "Portati nella foresta e giustiziati"". TGCom24 (in Italian). 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  17. ^ "Attanasio e Iacovacci portati nella foresta e uccisi. Congo: tutti gli aggiornamenti". (in Italian). 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Italian ambassador to DR Congo killed in UN convoy attack". BBC News. 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  19. ^ "Italian ambassador to DR Congo killed in UN convoy attack". BBC. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  20. ^ Plotino, Carmen (25 February 2021). "Attanasio e Iacovacci: funerale di Stato in S. Maria degli Angeli a Roma. "Vite strappate da violenza stupida"". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  21. ^ ""Ambasciatore e carabiniere uccisi dai rapitori"". Adnkronos. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  22. ^ "Congo, ucciso in un'imboscata il procuratore che indagava sulla morte di Attanasio e Iacovacci". (in Italian). 5 March 2021.
  23. ^ a b c "Ambassador Luca Attanasio was a Muslim? He's a Martyr, the Imam Says". La Luce. 28 February 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  24. ^ a b "Attanasio, il parroco: "Luca era un cattolico praticante, non si era convertito all'Islam"". Il Messaggero (in Italian). 24 February 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.