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Italy Mourns an Ambassador and His Bodyguard, Killed in Congo

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

The nationwide media have been filled with tributes to Mr. Attanasio, 43, who was lauded because the youthful and humanitarian face of Italian diplomacy, and with detailed accounts of his closing hours earlier than his loss of life on Monday.

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

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

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

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

“Yesterday I couldn’t specific to his household the deep sorrow of the whole Overseas Ministry and our honest closeness,” Elisabetta Belloni, the ministry’s secretary common, wrote in an editorial within the day by day Corriere della Sera. “As a result of silence and emotion prevailed.”

“Luca was a beneficiant one who needed to do good,” Ms. Belloni mentioned. “He believed that Italy — with the European Union and the United Nations — might play an vital function to advertise improvement and peace. To this purpose he devoted himself with humbleness, but in addition with absolute dedication and preparedness.”

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

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

Dozens of armed teams compete in kidnappings and violent actions within the space, with rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the largest international armed group working in Congo. The insurgent group on Tuesday denied any involvement within the assault, saying that their males have been removed from the world.

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 ladies and kids in want.

In an announcement learn on nationwide TV, Mr. Tshisekedi mentioned the federal government had despatched a workforce of investigators to Goma “in order that gentle is shed on these heinous crimes as quickly as attainable.”

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

Mr. Attanasio was headed to Rutshuru, within the north, to go to a World Meals Program venture to feed college youngsters, partially funded by the Italian authorities, in a convoy of two automobiles. The World Meals Program mentioned the street that they took had beforehand been cleared for journey with out safety escorts.

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

“He mentioned he admired our work on the entrance traces and was happy with us right here,” Miriam Ruscio, the Italian head of packages for the help group AVSI within the Democratic Republic of Congo, who attended the dinner, mentioned of Mr. Attanasio.

“It’s devastating to know that he’s gone,” Ms. Ruscio mentioned.

In Mr. Attanasio’s hometown, Limbiate, close to Milan, Mayor Antonio Romeo mentioned he would identify the city’s forthcoming cultural heart after the ambassador.

“He was happy with his hometown within the province, and cherished easy issues,” Mr. Romeo mentioned. “We’ll miss him dearly.”

A navy airplane will carry the our bodies of the 2 Italians to Rome, the place a medical workforce will conduct an post-mortem to attempt to decide the reason for their loss of life.

“We’re devastated, it’s an incommensurable loss,” Salvatore Attanasio, the ambassador’s father, mentioned in a video interview printed by the Italian information company Ansa. “These are unjust issues that ought to by no means ever occur.”

Steve Wembi contributed reporting from Kinshasa.

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