An armed group in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo denied any involvement in an attack or ambush, which the government accused of carrying out targeting a UN convoy in which the Italian ambassador and two other people were killed.
“The FDLR declares that it is not involved in any way in the attack,” the armed group said in a statement on Tuesday, and condemned what it described as “the cowardly assassination.”
On Monday, the DRC’s Interior Ministry blamed a Hutu armed group called the “Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda”, which is operating near the scene of the shooting of the Italian ambassador, Luca Atanasio, 43, and his bodyguard.
Local officials said the World Food Program driver, Mustafa Milambo, was also killed.
The Presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said that six militants carried out the ambush on Monday, when they stopped the two-car convoy on the road in North Juma, the capital of North Kivu.
The attackers drove the seven passengers away from the cars after one of the drivers was killed.
The presidency said, “The kidnappers shot the bodyguard, who died instantly, and the ambassador, wounding him in the stomach. The ambassador succumbed to his wounds an hour later in the United Nations Peacekeeping Hospital in Goma.”
Pierre Boislet of the “Kivu Security Tracker”, a research initiative that monitors unrest in the region, said that the responsibility of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda for the incident could not be ruled out.
“But we have not seen, and the government has not yet shown, evidence proving the responsibility of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) at this stage (regarding the targeting),” Boislet said.
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) were founded by senior Rwandan officers and militiamen who the United Nations and others said helped organize the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda. It is one of around 120 armed groups operating in eastern Congo.
The FDLR kidnapped two British tourists in the same village in May 2018 and held them for several days before releasing them.