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Italian envoy and two others killed in attack on UN convoy in Congo

A woman walks past soldiers outside Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Conflict in the east of the country has greatly hampered the response to the outbreak of the Ebola virus. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

GOMA, Congo, Feb 22 (Reuters) - 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 a military policeman 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.

(Reporting by Fiston Mahamba, Stanis Bujakera and Hereward Holland; Additional reporting by Giulia Paravicini, and by Crispian Balmer in Rome; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Timothy Heritage)

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