9 Mar 2009

Politicians condemn Irish army base killings

8:04 am on 9 March 2009

Political leaders say the killing of two British soldiers in Northern Ireland would not be allowed to throw the province back into another cycle of violence.

Gunmen shot the soldiers as they picked up pizzas at the gates of an army base near Antrim on Sunday morning.

Four other people - two civilians - were wounded in sustained fire from automatic weapons at the Massereene army base 26 kilometres north of Belfast.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the killings will not be allowed to derail the peace process, while the biggest Republican party in the province, Sinn Fein - which favours a united Ireland - says the shootings have no popular support.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the attack was intended to destroy recent progress and to plunge Ireland back into conflict.

Ireland's Sunday Tribune newspaper reportedly received a call from someone claiming to be from the splinter group the Real IRA, and claiming responsibility. The Real IRA was responsible for the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland in 1998 which killed 29 people.

The attack was one of the worst acts of bloodshed since the signing of a peace deal in 1998 that stemmed decades of sectarian and political violence.

It followed a police warning last week that the threat from splinter groups from the Irish Republican Army was again high.

A security operation is under way and the area surrounding the barracks, which is home to 38 Engineering Regiment, has been sealed off.