Italy holds state funeral for Congo ambassador

Italy held a state funeral for its ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo and his bodyguard on Thursday (February 24) who were killed in an ambush along with their driver.

The men were kidnapped while travelling in a United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) convoy in eastern Congo.

Ambassador Luca Attanasio, his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci and WFP driver Mustapha Milambo were all killed.

The Italian funeral was attended by Prime Minister Mario Draghi at a church used for services for national leaders and cultural figures.

The caskets, draped in the Italian flag, were given a military salute as they were removed from hearses.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis 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."

There are around 120 armed groups operating in eastern Congo.

And the country's interior ministry has blamed a Rwandan ethnic Hutu rebel militia called the FDLR for this attack.

The group has denied responsibility for what it called a "cowardly assassination".

Italian investigators have flown to Congo to liaise with the police and Italian prosecutors are expected to open a full investigation when they return.

Video Transcript

[CHANTING]

- Italy held a state funeral for its ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo and his bodyguard on Thursday, who were killed in an ambush along with their driver. The men were kidnapped while traveling in a United Nations World Food Program convoy in Eastern Congo.

Ambassador Luka Attanasio, his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci, and WFP driver Mustapha Milambo were all killed.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

The Italian funeral was attended by Prime Minister Mario Draghi at a church used for services for national leaders and cultural figures. The caskets, draped in the Italian flag, were given a military salute as they were removed from the hearses.

ANGELO DE DONATIS: [SPEAKING ITALIAN]

- Cardinal Angelo De Donatis said the death 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.

ANGELO DE DONATIS: [SPEAKING ITALIAN]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- There are around 120 armed groups operating in eastern Congo and the country's interior ministry has blamed a Rwandan ethnic Hutu rebel militia called the FDLR for this attack. The group has denied responsibility for what it called a cowardly assassination.

Italian investigators have flown to Congo to liaise with the police and Italian prosecutors are expected to open a full investigation when they return.

[MUSIC PLAYING]