Congo police detain suspects linked to Italian ambassador’s killing

Luca Attanasio had been Italy’s head of mission in Kinshasa since 2017 and was made ambassador in 2019. Italian foreign ministry-AFP-Getty Images

Police in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have detained members of a group allegedly linked to the killing of Italy’s ambassador last year as well as more recent kidnappings of NGO workers, a provincial police chief said on Tuesday.

Last February, Ambassador Luca Attanasio, his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver Mustapha Milambo were killed during a botched kidnapping on a road in eastern Congo, as they were heading to visit a UN humanitarian project at a school.

Police Commissioner Aba Van Ang on Tuesday presented groups of recent detainees at a meeting with North Kivu province’s military governor Constant Ndima. Some of those detained were involved in Attanasio’s killing, he said.

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“Among these groups is the (group) that kidnapped the Italian ambassador and killed him,” he said in comments shared by his communications team.

The group’s leader who was directly responsible for Attanasio’s death is still at large, he said.

He said the group was also involved in the kidnapping in December of members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who were later freed.

It was not immediately clear if the detainees had been officially charged.

Much of eastern Congo has been beset by violence in recent decades as rival militias fight government troops and each other for control of land and resources. Kidnappings and attacks on aid convoys, once relatively rare, are on the rise, United Nations and humanitarian organisations have warned.

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