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The Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo was among three people killed in an ambush against a World Food Program convoy in the east of the country, an area where rebel groups have launched attacks against civilians and soldiers since the 1990s.

Luca Attanasio, who had been stationed in Congo since 2017, an Italian military policeman who acted as the ambassador’s bodyguard and a Congolese driver for WFP were shot dead on Monday on their way to a feeding program in a local school, United Nations emergency nutrition. the agency said. Several other members of the seven-person convoy were injured, WFP and the United Nations Crisis and Operations Center said.

Congo’s interior ministry said the attackers were members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, without citing evidence. The FDLR, which originated from Hutu militias that fled to Congo after the Rwandan genocide, have terrorized civilians in the mineral-rich region for more than two decades.

Monday’s attack took place on the outskirts of Virunga National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site known for its mountain gorillas. In 2018, two British tourists were kidnapped and then released in the same location.

In a statement, WFP said the road the convoy was traveling on was allowed to travel without the security escorts that are common for official missions in eastern Congo.

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