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World Armed group denies killing Italian ambassador in Congo

12:57  23 february  2021
12:57  23 february  2021 Source:   reuters.com

Italian ambassador killed in attack on UN convoy in Congo, officials say

  Italian ambassador killed in attack on UN convoy in Congo, officials say Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, was killed Monday in an attack on a United Nations convoy during a field visit in the country. A member of the Carabinieri, the national gendarmerie of Italy, and a driver of one of the vehicles were also killed, according to Italian and U.N. officials.

By Fiston Mahamba and Hereward Holland

a bag of luggage sitting on top of a car: A view shows shuttered car windows at the scene where the Italian ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo Luca Attanasio was killed in Ruhimba village © Reuters/STRINGER A view shows shuttered car windows at the scene where the Italian ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo Luca Attanasio was killed in Ruhimba village

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - An armed group in eastern Congo, accused by the government of carrying out an ambush on a United Nations convoy in which Italy's ambassador and two other people were killed, has denied any involvement in the attack.

Congo's interior ministry on Monday blamed a Hutu militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which is active near where ambassador Luca Attanasio, 43 and his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, were shot.

Italian Ambassador killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo: the road did not require an escort

 Italian Ambassador killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo: the road did not require an escort © STR / EPA / MAXPPP UN forces and DRC soldiers secure a road near the site of the attack which cost the life of the Italian ambassador on Monday 22 February. The Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was shot and killed on Monday in an attack in the eastern province of North Kivu. A drama that bitterly reminds the international community of the often forgotten conflicts that have ravaged the east of the country for 25 years.

World Food Programme driver Mustapha Milambo was also killed, local officials said.

The FDLR was founded by senior Rwandan officers and militiamen who the United Nations and others have said helped orchestrate the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda. It is one of around 120 armed groups operating in eastern Congo.

"The FDLR declare that they are in no way involved in the attack," the rebel group said in a statement on Tuesday, condemning what it called a "cowardly assassination".

The FDLR kidnapped two British tourists in the same village in May 2018 and held them for several days before freeing them. The surrounding Virunga National Park, which lies along Congo's borders with Rwanda and Uganda and is home to more than half the world's mountain gorillas, then closed for nine months.

Militia raids in eastern DR Congo kill 10 civilians: army

  Militia raids in eastern DR Congo kill 10 civilians: army Fighters thought to belong to the notorious Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia killed 10 civilians in two overnight attacks in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the army said Sunday. ADF fighters decapitated eight villagers in the village of Boyo, in the northeast Ituri province, and shot dead two civilians in Kainama, army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Ngongo said. Soldiers were in pursuit of the attackers, he added. Local officialsADF fighters decapitated eight villagers in the village of Boyo, in the northeast Ituri province, and shot dead two civilians in Kainama, army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Ngongo said.

Monday's ambush was carried out by six armed men, who stopped the two-car convoy on the road north from North Kivu's provincial capital Goma, Congo's presidency said.

The attackers lead the seven passengers away from the cars after killing one of the drivers.

Army and park rangers tracked the group and a firefight ensued.

"The kidnappers fired point-blank shots at the bodyguard who died on the spot and at the ambassador, wounding him in the abdomen. The ambassador died of his wounds an hour later at the United Nations peacekeeping hospital in Goma," the presidency said, adding that it was sending a team to investigate.

Pierre Boisselet from the Kivu Security Tracker, a research initiative that maps unrest in the region, said the FDLR could not be ruled out.

"(But) we haven't seen, and the government hasn't shown so far, evidence proving the FDLR's responsibility at this stage," Boisselet said.

(Reporting by Fiston Mahamba and Hereward Holland; writing by Hereward Holland; editing by Nellie Peyton and Philippa Fletcher)

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