Slain Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was on Thursday given a state burial, along with his bodyguard who was also assassinated in the ambush that ended their lives.
Luca Attanasio, 43, and Vittorio Lacovacci, 30, lost their lives to gunshot wounds on Monday on their way to supervise a school feeding project under the United Nations’ World Food Programme. WFP driver Mustapha Milambo was also killed.
The funeral took place in the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs, a church basically for religious services for national leaders and cultural figures.
The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi and other ministers were in attendance.
The caskets, draped in the Italian tri-colour flag, were given a military salute as they were removed from hearses. A soldier commanded “Honour to the Fallen” and a military band played a sombre march as they were carried into the church.
“These brothers decided to commit themselves to helping others even if it meant sacrificing their lives,” Cardinal Angelo De Donatis said in his funeral homily.
De Donatis, who is Pope Francis’s vicar for Rome diocese, said the deaths should prompt everyone to “hear the cry of the people of Congo, cruelly devastated by violence as it sees its sons and daughters die every day.”
Attanasio is survived by his wife and three children while Lacovacci was engaged.
A judicial source in Rome said preliminary autopsy results showed that both were hit twice by crossfire in an apparent kidnapping attempt and not executed.
According to Congo’s presidency, the two-car convoy had been stopped on the road north from Goma by six armed men, who killed driver Milambo and led the six other passengers away. Army and park rangers tracked the group and a firefight ensued, during which the two Italians were shot.