Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, 43, was reportedly killed Feb. 22, 2021 while traveling with the UN World Food Program (WFP) after his convoy was ambushed near Goma.
His body guard, an Italian Carabinieri military policeman and their driver, a Congolese local national, were also killed during the attack. Dozens of armed militia groups operate in the area, so it isn't clear who was responsible. It is believed the attackers intended to kidnap Attanasio.
Photos, we won't publish out of respect for the dead, are circulating showing a mortally wounded Attanasio being transported on the back of a military technical pickup truck while being consoled by DRC soldiers. Additional photos show a dead man with a gunshot wound to the neck, likely the driver, being extracted from the ambush site across a motorcycle rider's lap. Another photo appears to show the Ambassador's vehicle with shattered windows caused by incoming rifle rounds.
The basis for violence in the DRC is a complex issue, but stems greatly from the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, which created a massive refugee crisis and perpetual series of clashes by various militia groups ever since.
The DRC hosts an estimated $24 Trillion in untapped minerals, which allows rebel groups to arm and equip themselves with weapons and ammunition. There are currently an estimated 4.5 million internally displaced persons in the DRC.