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Congo DRC - Italian ambassador killed in attack on UN convoy in DR Congo
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Goma, North Kivu Province
A vast country the size of continental western Europe, the DRC is grappling with numerous conflicts, especially in its remote, mineral-rich east. Scores of militias roam the four eastern provinces, many of them a legacy of wars in the 1990s that sucked in countries around central-southern Africa and claimed millions of lives. According to the Italian foreign ministry, the ambassador and the policeman were with a convoy of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo. But WFP confirmed that Attanasio was on a fact-finding mission with the UN's food agency. "The delegation was travelling from Goma to visit a WFP school feeding programme in Rutshuru when the incident took place," it said in a statement. "The attack... occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts," it said. Monday's attack occurred north of Goma, in Nyiaragongo Territory. Armed groups in the area include a Rwandan Hutu militia called the FDLR, as well as the M23, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army. The region includes the UNESCO-listed Virunga National Park, a vast wildlife reserve that is home to a quarter of the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas. More than 200 of the park's rangers have been killed in attacks stretching back more than a decade. The UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, said last week that more than 2,000 civilians were killed in North and South Kivu and Ituri province last year. Attanasio is the second European ambassador to have been killed while serving in the DRC. In January 1993, French ambassador Philippe Bernard was killed during riots in Kinshasa sparked by troops opposing dictator Mobutu Sese Seke.