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Italy honours ambassador and bodyguard killed in UN convoy attack in DR Congo

Tributes were paid at a state funeral.

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The coffins were draped with the Italian flag (Andrew Medichini/AP)

The coffins were draped with the Italian flag (Andrew Medichini/AP)

The coffins were draped with the Italian flag (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Italy has paid tribute to its ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and his bodyguard who were killed in an attack on a UN convoy.

They were honoured with a state funeral and prayers for peace in Congo and all nations “torn by war and violence”.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the pope’s vicar for Rome, presided over the solemn funeral at the Santa Maria degli Angeli basilica that was attended by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, top politicians, representatives of the armed forces and relatives of the young men.

Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere paramilitary officer Vittorio Iacovacci were killed on Monday north of Goma when an armed group stopped them as they travelled in a two-car convoy to a World Food Programme (WFP) school feeding project.

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The pair were honoured with a state funeral (Andrew Medichini/AP)

The pair were honoured with a state funeral (Andrew Medichini/AP)

AP/PA Images

The pair were honoured with a state funeral (Andrew Medichini/AP)

The WFP’s Congolese driver, Moustapha Milambo, was also killed in the attack.

Italy has formally asked the UN for an inquiry into what happened amid questions about whether the UN security arrangements were sufficient for the mission.

In his eulogy, the cardinal decried the “stupid and ferocious” attack and said it was right that Italy, Congo and the community of nations weep over such violence that “tore Luca and Vittorio from this world”.

“Let us pray together that today is a day in which the prayer for peace in Congo and in all nations torn by various forms of war and violence is raised to heaven,” he said.

He denounced how so many Congolese feel the constant threat of danger from rebel groups “knocking at their door”, saying the country had been “cruelly devastated by violence that sees their children die every day”.

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Mario Draghi arrives for the funeral (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Mario Draghi arrives for the funeral (Andrew Medichini/AP)

AP/PA Images

Mario Draghi arrives for the funeral (Andrew Medichini/AP)

But he praised the men for working for peace and looking out for others “even at the cost of their own lives”.

“If this is the fate of peace workers, what will be the fate of the rest of us?” he asked.

The funeral, carried live on state RAI television, featured masked Carabinieri officers as pallbearers and altar servers, with a military band performing Chopin’s haunting Funeral March as the flag-draped coffins were carried in and out of the basilica.

After the service, the socially-distanced crowd applauded as the two hearses pulled out of the piazza carrying the coffins for burial, flanked by a police escort.

Mr Attanasio is survived by his wife and three young daughters, at least one of whom attended the funeral, as well as his parents and siblings. Mr Iacovacci is survived by his fiancee and other family members.

PA


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