Prosecutors in Rome started an investigation into the accident, sending a team of investigators to Goma, the capital of North Kivu, near where the killings took place. The president and the highest-ranking officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo pledged to get to the bottom of the tragedy, which took place in an area near the border with Rwanda that is known for violence.
Dozens of armed groups compete in kidnappings and violent actions in the area. Rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda is the biggest foreign armed group operating in Congo. The rebel group on Tuesday denied any involvement in the attack, saying that their men were far from the area.
On Tuesday, the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, and his wife, met with Mr. Attanasio’s wife, Zakia Seddiki, who is the president of a nongovernmental organization in Congo that helps women and children in need.
In a statement read on national TV, Mr. Tshisekedi said the government had sent a team of investigators to Goma “so that light is shed on these heinous crimes as soon as possible.”
It was unclear whether Mr. Attanasio and his bodyguard were shot as part of a kidnapping attempt gone wrong, or whether he was murdered during an exchange of gunfire between the armed group, and park rangers and a Congolese Army unit nearby.
Mr. Attanasio was headed to Rutshuru, in the north, to visit a World Food Program project to feed school children, partially funded by the Italian government, in a convoy of two cars. The World Food Program said the road that they took had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts.
The night before the attack, Mr. Attanasio and Mr. Iacovacci dined with a small group of Italian expatriates in Goma.