DRC blames Hutu rebels for murder of Italian envoy Luca Attanasio

Tuesday February 23 2021

Security forces retrieve bodies on the edge of the Virunga National Park near where Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, his bodyguard and driver, were killed on February 22, 2021. PHOTO | AFP


The DR Congo government has said that Italian Ambassador to Kinshasa, Luca Attanasio, was killed by Rwandan Hutu rebels.

The Italian envoy was killed on Monday in an ambush near Goma, in the province of North Kivu.

A statement from the Congolese Ministry of Interior and Security said it suspected “elements” of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an exiled Hutu militia, ambushed a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy in Goma, killing the diplomat and two other people.

The WFP had said the envoy, the UN agency driver and another Italian embassy official were killed in the attack.

“The delegation was travelling from Goma to visit a WFP school feeding programme in Rutshuru when the incident took place,” the WFP said.

“WFP will work with national authorities to determine the details behind the attack, which occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts,” added the UN agency.


The FDLR is one of the active Rwandan rebels opposed to President Paul Kagame’s government.  

Bandit attack

The attack on the convoy happened in an area frequently attacked by bandits.

Officials in the DRC said they have launched investigations to identify the attackers and their motive.

But the statement from the Interior Ministry said: “The security services and the provincial authorities were unable to ensure special security measures to the convoy, neither to help, because of lacking of information on their presence in this part of the country which is considered unstable and plagued by the activism of certain national and foreign rebel armed groups.”

Mr Attanasio, 43, a former journalist, was married and had three children.

He was head of Italy’s mission in Kinshasa from 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019.

Separately, several DR Congo ministers sent messages of condolence to the Italian government. President Félix Tshisekedi called on the authorities to investigate the incident.  

“"I firmly condemn these heinous acts ... I instruct the competent services to shed light on this subject so that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice,” he said.

Foreign Minister Marie Tumba Nzenza promised to use all means to find those behind the attack.