AGI – The plane with brought to Italy landed on the runway of the Ciampino military airport the remains of Luca Attanasio, Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Vittorio Iacovacci, escort carabiniere, killed yesterday in an armed attack on a UN WFP convoy on the road between Goma and Rutshuru, in the east of the African country.
The ambassador’s wife and three daughters also traveled on the plane, who lived with him in Kinshasa, and some of the carabiniere’s relatives, who had left specially from Sonnino (Latina) to carry out this painful task.
The two coffins were welcomed on the track by an inter-force military picket, also made up of carabinieri of the 13th Friuli Venezia Giulia regiment, which is part of the second Mobile Brigade of the Arma, of which Iacovacci was a member.
Present at the edge of the track were Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini, as well as the general commander of the Carabinieri and the commanders of the other armed forces.
The Pope’s message
“With pain I learned of the tragic attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which the young Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio, the thirty-year-old carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci and their Congolese driver Mustapha Milambo lost their lives. I express my heartfelt condolences to their families, to the Diplomatic Corps and to the Carabinieri for the disappearance of these servants of peace and law“Thus Pope Francis in a telegram addressed to President Mattarella.
“We gather the exemplary testimony of the ambassador, a person of outstanding human and Christian qualities, always prodigal in weaving fraternal and cordial relationships, to the re-establishment of peaceful and harmonious relations within that African country; as well – continues the Pontiff – that of the carabiniere, experienced and generous in his service and close to forming a new family “.
“While I raise prayers of suffrage for the eternal rest of these noble children of the Italian nation, I urge you to trust in God’s providence, in whose hands nothing of the good accomplished is lost, especially when it is confirmed with suffering and sacrifice. To you, Mr. President, to the relatives and colleagues of the victims and to all those who cry for this mourning I send my heartfelt blessing “.
The investigation into the attack
24 hours after the killing of the ambassador Luca Attanasio and the carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the shadows on the responsibility of the attack on the UN agency convoy do not disappear.
In the background of the rebel of accusations between Kinshasa and Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the liberation of Rwanda Fdlr-Foca (Fdlr), the first report of the Italian intelligence on the incident also arrives: the 007s do not exclude the involvement of the militias of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), “of Ugandan origin”, recently suspected of joining jihadism, hypothesize a robbery as the motive for the attack and underline that the ‘Three antenna area’, the scene of the assault, is “at a high risk for security”.
The North Kivu militias
The government of Kinshasa had immediately pointed the finger openly at the Fdlr, active in the area of North Kivu where the assault took place and where, however, a myriad of other militias operate. Fdlr has denied any involvement and has indeed asked the Congolese authorities and Monusco (the United Nations mission for the stabilization of the DRC) to “do everything possible to shed light on the responsibilities of the ignoble murder”.
Cure Ngoma, spokesman for the Fdlr, pointed out that the ambush took place near the border with Rwanda and at a position of the Fardc (the Congolese armed forces), on which he invited to investigate. The exchange of accusations reflects the climate of strong political tension between the FDLR on the one hand and Kinshasa and the Rwandan army on the other.
According to the Italian intelligence report, it is not excluded that the attack – which initially seemed an attempted kidnapping – had the purpose of robbery and that it can bear the signature of the ADF, considered close to the Sunni movement Tablighi Jamat and which is considered linked to Isis, even if the affiliation has never been formalized. “The event”, reads the 007 report, “is part of an extremely fragile security context, which has characterized the North Kivu area in the last 20 years”.
The kidnapping of UN personnel
The Congolese Ministry of the Interior, on which doubts regarding the lack of security guarantees still hang, stressed that it was the command of kidnappers, seven in all and armed with Kalashnikovs and machetes, who killed Attanasio and Iacovacci, shooting them point blank. In yesterday’s ambush three people were kidnapped, always part of the UN convoy, and that according to unconfirmed rumors they were released.
In addition to responsibilities, the reasons why – in a territory such as North Kivu, which our services have defined as “high risk” – the unescorted passage of the World Food Program (WFP) convoy, the UN World Food Program, on which the two murdered compatriots traveled and also a third Italian, who remained unharmed: Rocco Leone, Deputy Head of the WFP in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Farnesina called for caution on the dissemination of reconstructions, while by Wednesday, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will have to report to Parliament.
In Rome an envoy of the Congolese president
Meanwhile, the arrival in Rome of a representative of the Congolese President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, who will bring a personal letter from the head of state to Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Kinshasa also announced the departure of a team for the northeastern city of Goma, where the attack took place, with the mission to “support the ongoing investigation”.
The arrival of the Carabinieri del Ros is also expected on the spot, who will have to acquire the records of the testimonies and verify which weapons were used by the rangers Congolese who intervened during the attempted kidnapping, in which the Congolese driver of Attanasio’s car also died. The Farnesina requested and obtained the autopsy examination ordered by the Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office in Italy investigating for kidnapping for terrorist purposes. The arrival of the bodies in Italy is expected for this evening, where Di Maio will be there to welcome the coffins.
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