An Italian carabineri police officer was also killed.
A member of the Carabinieri, the national gendarmerie of Italy, and a driver of one of the vehicles were also killed, according to Italian and U.N. officials.
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed the deaths of Attanasio and the unnamed police officer in a statement, expressing “deep sorrow.” The ministry said the pair were traveling in a vehicle that was part of a convoy of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known by its French acronym MONUSCO. The deadly attack occurred in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, which is located in the eastern part of the country near the border with Rwanda.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said he learned of their deaths “with great dismay and immense sorrow.”
“Two servants of the State who were violently snatched from us in the performance of their duty,” Maio said in a statement. “The circumstances of this brutal attack are still unclear and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened.”
The delegation was traveling from Goma to the eastern town of Rutshuru to visit a school feeding program run by the World Food Program (WFP), the food-assistance branch of the U.N., according to a statement from the organization, which confirmed the death of an unnamed “WFP driver.” A number of other passengers traveling with the delegation were injured in the attack.
“WFP will work with national authorities to determine the details behind the attack, which occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts,” the organization said. “WFP is in close contact with the Italian authorities through its offices at its Rome headquarters and in the DRC.”
The eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to numerous rebel groups vying for control over the mineral-rich land.
ABC News has reached out to Congolese authorities for additional information.