Ambassador and two others killed in attack on UN convoy in DR Congo

An Italian ambassador and two others have been killed in an attack on a UN convoy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Luca Attanasio, 43, a police officer and driver were fatally injured in the attempted kidnapping on Monday.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his "great dismay and immense sorrow" at the killings near DRC's border with Rwanda.

"No effort will be spared to shed light on what happened," he said.

The Italian foreign ministry said Mr Attanasio and a military policeman were killed at about 10.15am (8.15am GMT) local time.

Assailants attacked the convoy near the town of Kanyamahoro, a few miles north of the regional capital Goma, officials from the Virunga national park said.

A spokesman for the park had earlier said two people in the convoy had been killed and the ambassador wounded, The Guardian reports.

The third person killed was the driver, diplomatic sources said.

Mystery surrounds who was responsible for the attack, with no groups making an immediate claim of responsibility.

A statement from the Italian foreign ministry said: "It is with deep sorrow that the foreign ministry confirms the death today in Goma of the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, and of a policeman from the Carabinieri.

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"The ambassador and the soldier were travelling in a car in a convoy of Monusco, the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo."

Mr Attanasio died in the Monusco hospital in Goma.

According to the ministry website, he had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019.

Dozens of armed groups operate in and around Virunga, which lies along DRC’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda.

Park rangers have been repeatedly attacked, including six who were killed in an ambush last month.

Militias also clash regularly in the east of the country, where a large UN force is struggling to keep the peace.

Mr Attanasio had represented Italy in DR Congo since 2017. He joined the diplomatic service in 2003 and spent time in Morocco and Nigeria.

The UN's peacekeeping mission has been in the country since 1999. It is one of the biggest peacekeeping operations in the world, with more than 17,000 personnel on the ground.

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