The Italian government has demanded for answers on the brutal assassination of its envoy that occurred in troubled Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On Monday, Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio, his driver and his bodyguard were shot dead in Kibumba, in the North Kivu. They were part of a convoy of two World Food Program (WFP) vehicles.
The dynamics of the ambush are also being investigated by the Public Prosecutor of Rome. A team of our Carabinieri del Ros, delegated by the Prosecutor’s Office, has already flown to Goma for an initial investigative mission.
“We have formally asked the WFP and the UN to open an investigation that clarifies what happened, the reasons behind the safety device used and who was responsible for these decisions. We also explained that we expect clear and exhaustive answers as soon as possible,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the diplomat’s widow claims that her husband was “betrayed” by “someone close”. Someone who “knew his whereabouts spoke, sold him and betrayed him,” she said, without giving further details.
Di Maio added, “We owe the truth first of all to our fallen. But the best way to honor the memory of Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci is also to continue to strengthen our political attention towards the African continent, in which Luca strongly believed, with passion and dedication.”
Luca Attanasio and Vittorio Iacovacci were shot dead, by two bullets each, in the fire fight between their attackers and the Congolese rangers, who intervened to rescue the Virunga forest.
These are the first results of the autopsies carried out at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome on the bodies of the ambassador and the carabiniere, killed Monday in an ambush in the DRC.
The first autopsy results therefore support the hypothesis of an attempted kidnapping that ended badly and not of an attack aimed at killing – sent to the air by the unexpected arrival of the rangers.
However, they still don’t clarify which weapons the shots came from. In essence, it is not yet clear whether the two Italians were victims of friendly fire or not.
Attanasio was wounded in the abdomen, the blows pierced the body from left to right, without however leaving war residues: in fact both the entry and exit holes have been identified.
The diplomat, died an hour later in the hospital of the UN Monusco mission in Goma. Iacovacci, who instead died on the spot, was first hit by a shot in the hip area, then by a second shot that first touched the forearm, fracturing it, and then stopped at the base of the neck.
And this is where an AK-47 bullet, a Kalashnikov, was spotted. According to the government of Kinshasa – which accuses the Hutus of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (Fdlr) of attempted kidnapping “for extortion purposes” – the six assailants were armed with “five Kalashnikovs and a machete”. But the same automatic rifles would also be supplied to the guards of the national park where the ambush took place.
For this reason, the Carabinieri del Ros, in Goma, intend to check the rangers’ weapons and compare them to the bullet found in Iacovacci’s body and to those found on the cars of the World Food Program convoy, attacked in the militia-infested North Kivu province.
The Congolese driver, Mustapha Milambo, was also killed in the ambush, while the other 4 members of the WFP, initially taken to the forest by the kidnappers together with the two Italians, are safe.
Kinshasa has instructed that all foreign diplomats present on the Congolese national territory are from now on obliged to report any movement within the country to the government.
The local authorities, in the hours following the attack, had made it known that they were unaware of the fact that Attanasio was in that area, and therefore that they could not protect him.
According to researcher Christoph Vogel, who has worked for the Conflict Research Program at the London School of Economics (United Kingdom) and Ghent University. (Belgium). In 2019, around 130 armed groups existed in Kivu alone, 122 were listed across the area (North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika) in 2020.