World

Ambush in Congo, killing two Italians

Rome Beirut. I am Rangers of Virunga National Park found him still alive. They put him in the pocket, bare, lying on their knees, his face pale, and the shirt that had been lifted to examine the wounds on his stomach. A heavy bleeding took him when he arrived at the United Nations Hospital in Goma, North Kivu Province, Congo. The land of lakes, volcanoes, mountain gorillas, rare metals, seventy armed groups, nationalists, Hutus, Tutsis, and even jihadists and simple bandits chase money through extortion and kidnapping. Ambassador Luca Atanasio, 43, the head of our commission in Kinshasa since 2017, arrived early in the morning to visit the school with the help of the World Food Program, a UN agency, in the village of Rutshuru. Two cars, not an armored vehicle, seven people in total. The area was not considered “dangerous” to the extent that it required special guard and protection. Atanasio was in an off-road vehicle, next to thirty-year-old Carabinieri Vittorio Iacovaci. In front of the World Food Program’s Congolese driver, Mostafa Milambo.

In local ten, nine in Italy, the ambush. Armed men attacked the convoy. The driver tried to respond, and was killed on the spot. Attanasio and Iacovacci are taken and forced into the attackers’ cars, along with the others. But there is something unexpected. A few hundred meters away, there is a team of guards. They repair the high voltage line. They are people who are used to fighting, for decades they have been fighting with Hunters, often better equipped than they are. Amplifiers. Everything is collapsing. It is not clear if it was the carabiniere that first interacts and shoots. Or the kidnappers returned fire from the guard. In any case, the ambassador and the soldier were beaten. There is a chase. Athanasius was released first, he is in critical condition. But there is nothing to do, he will die in the hospital. The guards continue to climb the path into the forest. A kilometer and a half later they find Yakovachi dead. Blue Helmets are also moving in at Monusco, the UN mission that has been operating for two decades in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and government armed forces. In the evening, one of the abductees was found alive. According to local sources quoted by InfoAfrica, three Congolese who were in the convoy were still in the hands of the attackers.

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On the other hand, the presence of a third Italian in the attacked convoy is a mystery. He will be an employee of an international organization and will find himself free and healthy, having suffered only minor injuries.

And the ambassador believed that his role “above all is to be close to the Italians, but he also contributes to achieving peace, which is a dangerous task sometimes, but we must lead by example,” he explained last year after receiving the award. Nasiriyah. Respected servant of the state. The President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi also shared their condolences for the “cowardly attack”. Doubts about safety persist. In a statement, the World Food Program confirmed that “travel on this road was previously permitted without security escorts.” Something is not right. Typically, diplomats travel in convoys of at least three armored cars. Farnesina asked the UN to provide a detailed report on the attack as soon as possible, given that the ambassador was their guest. And also because everything happened near an area where, according to local sources, “two British tourists were kidnapped by armed strangers on May 11, 2018.” This route was not “safe”.

Like the rest of the country. Since the fall of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, in May 1997, the Congo has experienced a series of civil wars that have always centered in the eastern provinces, which were actually exposed in the mid-1990s due to tensions between the Tutsis. The Hutu that led to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Instability has given rise to countless armed groups, both local and neighboring countries. The arrival of Hutu and Tutsi militias from Rwanda led to the emergence of self-defense formations, such as Mai Mai, from the Swahili (and Arabic) word for “water”, specifically to defend local basic resources. Another group, which was fighting against the central force of Kinshasa, the March 23 Movement, was stopped in 2013, but the pro-Rwanda National Congress for the Defense of the People and the Democratic Forces for Liberation (FDL) are still active. Rwanda, Hutu guerrilla war. According to the Congolese government, the latter is responsible for the attack. The authorities also indicated that “they were not warned.” Another vulnerability accompanied by a hoax.

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Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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