This picture taken and handout on February 23, 2021 by the Italian Foreign Ministry reveals Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi (L) contact one of many flag-draped coffins of slain Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Italian Carabinieri police officer Vittorio Iacovacci, carried by Carabinieri cops upon the arrival late on February 23, 2021 at Rome’s Ciampino airport of an Italian Air Force aircraft flying from Goma within the DRC. Handout / ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / AFP
The physique of the Italian ambassador killed within the Democratic Republic of Congo arrived in Rome late Tuesday, as Rwandan Hutu rebels denied accusations they have been behind the assault and as a substitute blamed the armies of the DRC and Rwanda.
Luca Attanasio, 43, died on Monday after a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy was ambushed in a harmful a part of japanese DRC.
The envoy’s Italian bodyguard, Vittorio Iacovacci, and Congolese driver Moustapha Milambo additionally died on the sector journey.
An Italian navy aircraft carrying Attanasio and Iacovacci’s flag-draped coffins was met at Rome’s Ciampino airport by Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Foreign minister Luigi Di Maio and defence minister Lorenzo Guerini joined him to fulfill Attanasio’s widow and three daughters, who flew dwelling with the our bodies.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and his spouse had earlier made a “condolence visit” to the household on the Italian ambassador’s residence.
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The DRC’s inside ministry on Monday blamed the killings on “members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)” — a Rwandan Hutu insurgent group that has plagued the area for greater than 1 / 4 of a century.
But the FDLR rejected the allegation, blaming the Rwandan military and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in a press release acquired by AFP Tuesday.
It stated the ambassador’s convoy was attacked close to the Rwandan border, “not far from a position of the FARDC”.
A photograph mixture of Italian Luca Attanasio and a medical automobile of the North Kivu hospital loaded with the physique of the motive force on a street on the sting of the Virunga National Park close to the village of Kibumba, some 25km from Goma, the place the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, his bodyguard and driver, have been killed earlier when their automobile got here below gunfire whereas he was on a discipline journey on February 22, 2021. ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP
“The responsibility for this despicable killing is to be found in the ranks of these two armies and their sponsors who have forged an unnatural alliance to perpetuate the pillaging of eastern DRC,” it stated.
Authorities in each international locations haven’t reported the presence of any common Rwandan troops within the DRC.
An knowledgeable on the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a US monitor, instructed AFP the Hutu insurgent group, nevertheless, has a recognized presence within the area.
“The FDLR are near the place where the attack took place. It’s in the realm of possibility that the Rwandan rebels are responsible,” the knowledgeable stated, talking on situation of anonymity.
Scores of militias roam the DRC’s 4 japanese provinces, lots of them a legacy of wars within the Nineties that sucked in international locations round central-southern Africa and claimed tens of millions of lives.
Some of the FDLR’s founders have been concerned within the 1994 Rwandan genocide throughout which the Hutu majority slaughtered 800,000 individuals, primarily Tutsis but additionally Hutu moderates.
The group is against the present Rwandan authorities, however has not launched any large-scale assaults in Rwanda since 2001.
– Dangerous area –
Monday’s assault occurred north of the North Kivu capital of Goma on National Highway 2 — a street that runs by means of thickly forested, mountainous terrain subsequent to the porous border with Rwanda.
Resident of the village of Kibumba stand as UN and Congolese armed forces troopers retrieve our bodies on the sting of the Virunga National Park, some 25km from Goma, the place Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, his bodyguard and driver, have been killed earlier when their automobile got here below gunfire whereas he was on a discipline journey on February 22, 2021. ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP
The world-renowned Virunga National Park, a UNESCO-listed wildlife reserve that may be a haven for critically-endangered mountain gorillas, straddles the world.
Tshisekedi’s workplace stated Attanasio had arrived in Goma on Friday morning aboard a MONUSCO aircraft.
He left on Monday morning in a two-vehicle WFP convoy heading for Kiwanja, within the Rutshuru space, accompanied by his bodyguard and WFP employees, it stated.
The convoy was ambushed three kilometres (1.9 miles) from their vacation spot by six assailants, armed with 5 AK-47 assault rifles and a machete.
“They proceeded by firing warning shots before forcing the people in the vehicles to get out and follow them into the depths of the (Virunga) park, which they did by shooting dead one of the drivers to create panic,” the president’s workplace stated.
Park rangers and military troops close by heard the noise and pursued the attackers.
“Five hundred metres (from the site of the ambush), the kidnappers fired point-blank at the bodyguard, who died on the spot, and at the ambassador, hitting him in the abdomen,” the presidency added.
– Security questions –
After the Italian authorities expressed shock and outrage on the assault, newspapers in Rome on Tuesday raised questions on safety preparations for the journey.
Foreign Minister Di Maio is scheduled to talk to lawmakers in regards to the assault on Wednesday.
This picture taken and handout on February 23, 2021 by the Italian Foreign Ministry reveals Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi (L) and Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Luigi Di Maio (R) attending a ceremony for the arrival of the coffins of slain Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Italian Carabinieri police officer Vittorio Iacovacci, late on February 23, 2021 at Rome’s Ciampino airport aboard an Italian Air Force aircraft flying from Goma within the DRC. Handout / ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / AFP
The DRC inside ministry stated Monday that safety providers and provincial authorities had not been knowledgeable of the journey upfront.
“(They) were unable to provide special security for the convoy or come to its aid because of a lack of information about their presence in this part of the country, despite its reputation for instability,” it stated.
But the WFP stated the assault “occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts”.
A UN humanitarian official within the DRC, who spoke on situation of anonymity, stated that this meant the convoy needed to be a minimal of two automobiles.