Armed Group Denies Killing Italian Ambassador in Congo

Congo (Reuters) -
Antonio Domenico Romeo, mayor of Limbiate, Italy (L), hometown of the late Ambassador to Congo, Luca Attanasio, talks with a video journalist at the City Hall, Monday.  (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

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.

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 neighboring Rwanda. It is one of around 120 armed groups operating in eastern Congo.

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 led the seven passengers away from the cars after killing one of the drivers.

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.