The bodies of the two Italians arrived at Rome’s Ciampino airport on Tuesday night and were greeted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Mayo said on Wednesday that the country had sent a team to the eastern part of the DRC to investigate the incident.
“At the moment, not all the facts are clear,”
“What we know for sure is that this is not an execution, it was a gunfight, the ambassador and the carabinieri were hit by two bullets each,” Pioletti added after autopsies of the two men, which ended on Wednesday.
An armed group stopped the convoy and forced the passengers to disembark before exchanging weapons, the MPP said.
Jacobici died after a bullet hit him near his heart while Athanasio was shot twice in the abdomen, Pioletti said. Athanasio died on the way to the hospital, which was 50 minutes away.
It is not yet clear whether the bullets that killed the Italians were fired by the attackers or the government military defending them, Pioletti added.
The route was on a road previously defined as safe for travel without a security team, according to the WFP.
Rutshuru is just over a two-hour drive from Goma. The road to the regional capital has been unsafe for years with various armed groups operating in the area.
There is an enhanced UN peacekeeping presence in the region, and UN convoys need a security clearance to travel outside Goma.
As the identity of the attackers is still unknown, the motive for the attack is uncertain. A political motive has not been completely ruled out, Pioletti said, but added that abduction was more likely.
David Mackenzie, Nicola Ruotolo and CNN’s Ingrid Formanek contributed to this report.