Congo’s Interior ministry has said a Hutu militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) was behind the killing of Italian Ambassador to Kinshasa Luca Attanasio, 43.
Ambassador Attanasio was killed on Monday along with his bodyguard and a World Food Programme driver when their convoy was attacked in eastern DRC according the Italy’ Foreign Affairs ministry.
FDLR is one of dozens of armed groups operating in and around Virunga National Park, which lies along Congo’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda.
The FDLR, founded by members of the militia behind the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, kidnapped two British tourists in the same village in May 2018, leading the park to close to tourists for nine months. The couple were released after several days.
In April last year, the FDLR was blamed for killing 12 rangers in the Virunga National Park, a Unesco-listed wildlife reserve that is home to critically-endangered mountain gorillas.
“I promise the Italian government that my country’s government will do everything to discover who is behind this awful murder,” Congo’s Foreign minister Marie Ntumba Nzeza said.
WFP said the delegation was on its way to visit a school feeding programme in Rutshuru and the road had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts.
The DRC’s army said its troops were searching the area for the assailants.
In a statement the UN food agency said a number of other passengers travelling with the delegation sustained injuries during the attack.
“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. WFP is in close contact with the Italian authorities through its offices at its Rome headquarters and in the DRC,” the statement said.
TSHISEKEDI CONDEMNS ATTACK
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi/ COURTESY
President Felix Tshisekedi condemned the killing and instructed the authorities to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. He has also dispatched an envoy to rome over the killing.
“The Head of State firmly condemns these heinous acts perpetrated in Kibumba near Goma (North Kivu) and instructs the competent services to shed light on this subject so that their perpetrators are identified and brought to justice,” DR Congo’s presidency said in a statement.
“On behalf of the DRC and in his own name, President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo offers his sincere condolences to the families of the illustrious disappeared, to the President of the Republic of Italy, to the WFP as well as to the entire accredited diplomatic corps in the DRC,” it added.
African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki sent his condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the attack.