Slain Italian Envoy Remembered For 'infectious Smile And Class'

Slain Italian envoy remembered for 'infectious smile and class'

Rome, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd Feb, 2021 ) :Luca Attanasio, the Italian diplomat killed in an attack Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was one of his country's youngest ambassadors with a strong interest in African affairs.

The 43-year-old father-of-three was remembered for his warmth and professionalism, and his death sparked an outpouring of grief from politicians and colleagues.

Born in northern Saronno, northwest of Milan, on May 23, 1977, Attanasio joined the diplomatic service in 2003, according to the foreign ministry.

He had been representing Italy in Kinshasa since 2017, first as head of mission and then as ambassador since October 2019.

He was hailed as "a man gifted with uncommon courage, humanity and professionalism" by Emanuela Del Re, who was deputy foreign minister from 2018 until last month.

Del Re said she worked with Attanasio on the emergency repatriation of a "very sick" nun from DR Congo.

"I remember his infectious smile, his class, his great knowledge of African affairs," she said. "Ciao (good-bye) my dear esteemed Luca." - 'Dark and sad day' - Attanasio died in the eastern North Kivu province following an attack on a UN convoy, along with an Italian policeman escorting him, and a UN driver.

"It is a dark and sad day" for Italy, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said, while President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi also sent their condolences.

A top graduate from Milan's prestigious Bocconi university, Attanasio also had a doctorate in international politics and worked briefly as a business consultant.

His first missions abroad were as trade secretary at the Italian embassy to Switzerland, from 2006 to 2010, and consul in Casablanca, Morocco, from 2010 to 2013.

From 2013 to 2015 he worked at the foreign ministry in Rome, where he was chief secretary of the globalisation and global affairs department.

He returned to Africa in 2015 as first councillor at the Italian embassy to Nigeria, moving to Kinshasa in September 2017.

In October, Attanasio was given an Italian award, the International Nassiriya prize for Peace, in recognition of his engagement with humanitarian causes.

He was married with three daughters.

His wife Zakia Seddiki, from Casablanca, describes herself on Facebook as the founder and president of a Kinshasa-based charity, Mamasofia.