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Italy Mourns an Ambassador and His Bodyguard, Killed in Congo

Italians on Tuesday mourned the dying of Luca Attanasio, the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was killed in an ambush together with his bodyguard and their driver whereas participating in a humanitarian convoy with the World Food Program.

The nationwide media had been full of tributes to Mr. Attanasio, 43, who was lauded because the youthful and humanitarian face of Italian diplomacy, and with detailed accounts of his last hours earlier than his dying on Monday.

Mr. Attanasio’s killing struck a deep nerve in Italy, which has been beneath pressure over the previous 12 months due to the pandemic and a political disaster that created weeks of uncertainty. Many Italians additionally stay delicate to the destiny of their nationals overseas after the brutal killing of a graduate pupil, Giulio Regeni, in Egypt in 2016.

Pictures of Mr. Attanasio smiling and surrounded by Congolese kids, or posing together with his spouse and three small daughters, dominated the entrance pages of Italy’s dailies and their web sites.

“Luca and Vittorio. The best of Italy,” learn the headline of the Turin-based each day La Stampa, referring to Vittorio Iacovacci, the 30-year-old Italian army police officer who died with the ambassador and their Congolese driver, Mustapha Milambo of the World Food Program.

“His Africa,” learn the headline on the entrance web page of the left-leaning each day Il Manifesto, exhibiting a selfie taken by the ambassador, his proper thumb up, with two Congolese kids.

“Yesterday I couldn’t express to his family the deep sorrow of the entire Foreign Ministry and our sincere closeness,” Elisabetta Belloni, the ministry’s secretary basic, wrote in an editorial in the each day Corriere della Sera. “Because silence and emotion prevailed.”

“Luca was a generous person who wanted to do good,” Ms. Belloni stated. “He believed that Italy — with the European Union and the United Nations — could play an important role to promote development and peace. To this goal he devoted himself with humbleness, but also with absolute commitment and preparedness.”

Pope Francis on Tuesday expressed his condolences to the victims’ households, the diplomatic corps and the army police “for the disappearance of these servants of peace and law.”

Prosecutors in Rome began an investigation into the accident, sending a crew of investigators to Goma, the capital of North Kivu, close to the place the killings occurred. The president and the highest-ranking officers of the Democratic Republic of Congo pledged to unravel the tragedy, which occurred in an space close to the border with Rwanda that’s identified for violence.

Dozens of armed teams compete in kidnappings and violent actions in the realm, with rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the most important overseas armed group working in Congo. The insurgent group on Tuesday denied any involvement in the assault, saying that their males had been removed from the realm.

On Tuesday, the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, and his spouse, met with Mr. Attanasio’s spouse, Zakia Seddiki, who’s the president of a nongovernmental group in Congo that helps girls and kids in want.

In a press release learn on nationwide TV, Mr. Tshisekedi stated the federal government had despatched a crew of investigators to Goma “so that light is shed on these heinous crimes as soon as possible.”

It was unclear whether or not Mr. Attanasio and his bodyguard had been shot as a part of a kidnapping try gone fallacious, or whether or not he was murdered throughout an alternate of gunfire between the armed group, and park rangers and a Congolese Army unit close by.

Mr. Attanasio was headed to Rutshuru, in the north, to go to a World Food Program venture to feed faculty kids, partially funded by the Italian authorities, in a convoy of two automobiles. The World Food Program stated the highway that they took had beforehand been cleared for journey with out safety escorts.

The evening earlier than the assault, Mr. Attanasio and Mr. Iacovacci dined with a small group of Italian expatriates in Goma.

“He said he admired our work on the front lines and was proud of us here,” Miriam Ruscio, the Italian head of applications for the help group AVSI in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who attended the dinner, stated of Mr. Attanasio.

“It is devastating to know that he is gone,” Ms. Ruscio stated.

In Mr. Attanasio’s hometown, Limbiate, close to Milan, Mayor Antonio Romeo stated he would title the city’s forthcoming cultural middle after the ambassador.

“He was proud of his hometown in the province,” Mr. Romeo stated, including, “We will miss him dearly.”

In a video interview revealed by the Italian news company Ansa, Salvatore Attanasio, the ambassador’s father, stated, “We are devastated, it is an incommensurable loss.”

He added, “These are unjust things that should never ever happen.”

Steve Wembi contributed reporting from Kinshasa.

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