A vicious attack on a humanitarian World Food Program convoy headed to a school in North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday left three dead. Among those killed in the attack included Italy’s ambassador to the Africa nation. The attack took place neaby the city of Goma, according to Italy’ Foreign Ministry.
The ambassador, Luca Attanasio, was killed in the attack along with Vittorio Iacovacci, an official of the Italian embassy. Also killed in the attack was a driver for the UN’s World Food Program. The three were in the same vehicle in a convoy of other cars headed north toward Goma. According to the UN, the road have previously been cleared as safe for travel without the need for a security detail.
This is not the first time violent unrest has occurred in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The region, in the eastern part of the country, borders Rwanda and is known to be a location rife with armed, violent groups. A complicated series of adversaries and alliances among the armed groups make navigating the region difficult even for locals, let alone outsiders unfamiliar with the territory or the politics between the armed groups.
According to North Kivu Province Governor Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, the region has been the site of violence by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda for some time. However, at the time of this writing, the faction responsible for Monday’s violence is unknown. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda group is one of the largest foreign armed organizations operating in Congo, and has ties to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Congo’s minister of foreign affairs, Marie Tumba Nzeza, stated “I promise the Italian government that the government of my country will do everything in its power to find out who is behind this despicable murder.” Nzeza offered condolences to Italy on behalf of Congo for the unexpected attack on the convoy.
Italy’s foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, left a meeting in Brussels early to return to Rome upon hearing the news. According to the Foreign Ministry, Di Maio has been deeply saddened by the tragic events. “Two civil servants were violently taken away from us while carrying out their duties,” reads an official ministry statement on the attack “The circumstances of this brutal attack are yet to be known, but no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened.”