UPDATED: Italian ambassador to Congo killed in attack on U.N. convoy

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Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and two other people were killed on Monday in an attack on a United Nations convoy in eastern Congo, Italy’s foreign ministry and park authorities said.

The convoy was attacked at around 10:15 a.m. (0815 GMT)during an attempted kidnap by assailants near the town of Kanyamahoro, a few kilometres (miles) north of the regional capital Goma, the Virunga National Park told Reuters.

The Italian ambassador, Luca Attanasio, and an Italian military policeman, Vittorio Iacovacci, travelling with him were killed, the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The park had said earlier that two people in the convoy had been killed and the ambassador wounded. The third person killed was a driver, diplomatic sources said.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

“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 policemen from the Carabinieri,” the foreign ministry statement said.

“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,” it said.

According to the ministry website, Attanasio 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 Congo’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda. Park rangers have been repeatedly attacked, including six who were killed in an ambush last month.

The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO, an acronym based on its French name, is a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which was established by the United Nations Security Council to monitor the peace process of the Second Congo War, though much of its focus subsequently turned to the Ituri conflict, the Kivu conflict and the Congo conflict.

Main Photo: An undated handout photo made available by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ambassador to DR Congo, Luca Attanasio, issued 22 February 2021. EPA-EFE/ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY

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