N. Ireland: Two more held over killing of officer


Forensic officers work the crime scene where Constable Stephen Carroll (right) was killed.
Police arrested two more men in connection with the killing of policeman Stephen Carroll in Northern Ireland last week, bringing the total number of people in custody to seven, the Police Service of Northern Ireland announced Monday.

A 31-year-old man and a 27-year-old man were arrested Monday in Craigavon, the town where Carroll, 48, was shot dead a week earlier, the police statement said. Police have also recovered a gun and ammunition in connection with the killing, the first murder of a policeman in Northern Ireland since 1998. They were found Saturday in Craigavon, police said. Police have also arrested four people over the killing of two soldiers just days before Carroll was shot. Soldiers Cengiz “Pat” Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23, were shot at the Massereene barracks on March 7. The Massereene barracks killings marked the first fatal attack on British troops in the province for more than 12 years. The shootings raised fears that the province could plunge back to the sectarian violence that affected it for 30 years, leaving about 3,600 dead, before the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The Continuity IRA, a republican splinter group that does not accept the Good Friday Agreement, said it had killed Carroll, while the Real IRA, another splinter group, said it had killed the soldiers, Britain’s Press Association reported. The militant groups want Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and become part of the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland’s top police officer, Hugh Orde, insisted Sunday that the splinter groups are “small … disrupted, infiltrated and disorganized.”

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“The current wisdom is that they number around 300 in a population of 1.75 million,” he wrote in Britain’s News of the World newspaper. But, he said: “In the past 18 months or so there have been at least 25 attempts by dissident terrorists to kill officers on and off duty.” Meanwhile, rioting flared near Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, after an earlier round of arrests Saturday. Police said petrol bombs were hurled at police in Lurgan, west of Belfast. There were no arrests or injuries reported, despite gangs of youths on the streets, authorities said. One of the men arrested in connection with the killing of the soldiers, Colin Duffy, 41, is from Lurgan. He was among three whose arrests were announced Saturday. A fourth man was arrested Saturday night, said the police spokeswoman, who declined to be named in line with policy. She released no details about the man or the location of the arrest. The two British soldiers were shot dead in County Antrim, as they were preparing to ship out for duty in Afghanistan. The soldiers had packed their bags and changed into their desert uniforms, authorities said. Two masked gunmen with automatic rifles shot them as the soldiers picked up a pizza delivery at the barracks, authorities said. Two other soldiers and the two pizza delivery men were seriously wounded. Politicians from across the political spectrum have condemned the killings, with Sinn Fein deputy leader Martin McGuinness calling the killers “traitors to the island of Ireland.”

Sinn Fein is a predominantly Catholic party that wants Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland. The party is widely thought to be linked to the Irish Republican Army. Danny Kennedy, deputy leader of the loyalist Ulster Unionist Party, which wants Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, also condemned the attack as “wicked and murderous.”

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