DRC blames Hutu rebels for murder of Italian envoy Luca Attanasio

Luca Attanasio

Italian Ambassador to DR Congo Luca Attanasio (second left) and  WFP staff before the attack on February 22, 2021.

Photo credit: Pool

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 in 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 government authorities to establish the motive behind the attack 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 WFP convoy happened in an area frequented with bandit attacks.

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 give special security to the convoy due to lack of information about 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, had worked in the country as a journalist.

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 out those behind the murder of the Italian envoy.