Italy repatriates ambassador and carabiniere killed in DR Congo attack

Italy to honour Attanasio and Iacovacci with state funeral.

The bodies of Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and a carabiniere military police officer arrived in Rome late last night, the day after they were killed in an attack north of Goma.

Ambassador Luca Attanasio, 43, and his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, were killed alongside World Food Programme driver Mustapha Milambo as they travelled in a United Nations’ convoy to visit a WFP school project in Rutshuru.

Italy's premier Mario Draghi was joined by foreign minister Luigi Di Maio and defence minister Lorenzo Guerini, along with grieving relatives, as the military aircraft carrying the coffins landed at Rome’s Ciampino airport.

A priest blesses the coffins containing Luca Attanasio and Vittorio Iacovacci at Ciampino airport in Rome. Photo ANSA.

Italian carabinieri investigators have flown to DR Congo to liase with police there, reports Reuters, pending a full investigation by Rome prosecutors.

Congolese authorities have ensured full cooperation with Italy and president Félix Antoine Tshisekedi has sent his emissary to Rome to deliver a "personal letter" directly to Draghi.

The DRC interior ministry has blamed the attack on a Rwandan ethnic Hutu rebel militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), according to Reuters, however the FDLR has denied responsibility.

Luca Attanasio and Vittorio Iacovacci

Di Maio is briefing parliament today on the attack - described as "cowardly and treacherous" by Italian president Sergio Mattarella - as Rome's Policlinico Gemelli hospital carries out autopsies on the bodies of Attanasio and Iacovacci.

Attanasio's widow Zakia Seddiki and his three young daughters are expected to return to Rome today, reports ANSA.

Italy will honour Attanasio and Iacovacci, who was due to be married this summer, with a state funeral in Rome tomorrow.

Photos ANSA