Luca Attanasio and a carabiniere were killed in an attack north of Goma in eastern DRC.
Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, and Italian carabiniere military police officer Vittorio Iacovacci, were killed in an attack on a UN convoy near Goma on 22 February.
Their driver, a staff member of the World Food Programme (WFP), was also killed in the attack which occurred in the east of the country.
“The ambassador and the soldier were travelling in a car in a convoy of Monusco, the United Nations Organisation stabilisation mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said the foreign ministry statement.
The group was travelling from Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province, to visit a WFP-run school feeding programme in Rutshuru, north of Goma, according to a statement released by the WFP.
Reuters news agency cited a source from the Virunga National Park saying the convoy was attacked during a kidnap attempt near the town of Kanyamahoro, a few kilometres north of Goma, at around 10.15 am local time.
According to diplomatic sources, Attanasio was shot and "died of his injuries" after arriving in a critical condition at the hospital in Goma.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack and there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Several armed groups operate in the eastern Virunga area, on the border between Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
President Mattarella said that "Italy is mourning, deploring a cowardly and treacherous attack."
Italian premier Mario Draghi expressed his "profound condolences," adding that "we are following developments."
Italy's foreign minister Luigi Maio spoke of "great dismay and immense sorrow" and pledged that "every effort" would be made to "shed light on what happened."
Attanasio, 43, had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019, while Iacovacci, 30, had been in service at the embassy since September.
Photo: Luca Attanasio - image Italian foreign ministry.
cordoglio del Presidente #Mattarella per la morte dell’Ambasciatore Luca #Attanasio, del Carabiniere Vittorio #Iacovacci e del loro autista pic.twitter.com/hqJptje9Kb— Quirinale (@Quirinale) February 22, 2021
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Italian ambassador killed in attack on UN convoy in DR Congo
Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo