DR Congo police said Tuesday they had arrested suspects in the murder of the Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio who was killed in an ambush on his vehicle a year ago.
Aba Van Ang, regional police chief of North Kivu province where the attack took place, said that three groups had been arrested, including one alleged to have “attacked the ambassador’s convoy”.
However the man suspected of firing the shot which killed Attanasio managed to flee, he added.
The police chief told the regional Governor Constant Ndima Kongba, in the presence of reporters, that the whereabouts of Attanasio’s killer, known as “Aspirant”, were known and “we hope to find him”.
Near where he was speaking, six young men were sat on the ground, flanked by armed police.
Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was among three people killed on February 22, 2021, when a UN convoy was ambushed in the country’s troubled east.
The other fatalities were driver Mustapha Milambo and Italian police officer Vittorio Iacovacci.
The police chief said that “Aspirant” had “very much regretted” killing the Italian ambassador, who was 43, as the gang’s plan had been to kidnap him for ransom.
Without giving details, he said that those already arrested are also thought to be responsible for recent kidnappings in the area, notably of members of humanitarian groups.
North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province have been under a “state of siege” since last May — a measure aimed at strengthening the response to armed groups by replacing senior civilian officers with officers from the security forces.
More than 120 armed groups roam eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, many of them the legacy of full-scale wars that flared in the 1990s.