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Bodies of slain Italian Ambassador to DRC Luca Attanasio and an Italian Carabinieri police officer are loaded into an Italian Air Force plane at Goma Airport on February 23, 2021. Congolese police say they have arrested key suspects in the murder of the Italian diplomat. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Congolese police say they have arrested key suspects in the murder of an Italian diplomat, nearly a year since the incident which happened in the eastern part of the country.

According to Aba Van Ang, the provincial commissioner for the North Kivu police, six men were arrested on Wednesday. They were presented to Constant Ndima, the governor of North Kivu and are said to be "serious criminals, who have accomplices operating on motorbikes".

The revelations came 11 months after the ambassador, Mr Luca Attanasio, was killed in an ambush in Nyiragongo territory, four kilometres from the eastern DRC town of Goma.

He was attacked by armed gunmen who also killed his bodyguard and his driver as they drove on a road considered "dangerous".

Identities not revealed

The provincial commissioner said that the men were “criminals [who] often kidnap international officials" in North Kivu, but did not reveal their identities.

“Some were operating in neighbouring countries and in the DRC and Maniema province, while others were carrying out their criminal activities in the city of Goma and its surroundings," the North Kivu provincial police commissioner said.

Romy Ekuka Lipopo, vice-governor of North Kivu, wants the suspected bandits brought before the military justice system, suggesting the seriousness with which the government was treating the case.

"I am also appealing to our justice system. It must be our secular arm. Today, let justice be done," he insisted.

Officials at the time had suggested the Italian diplomat had no clearance to travel in a region where, usually, dignitaries are often given additional security escort on prior request. By PATRICK ILUNGA, The East African

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