Third man charged over Northern Ireland police shooting

Stephen Carroll's coffin is carried from St Therese's chapel in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, on March 13.
A 21-year-old man appeared in court Thursday in Belfast, Northern Ireland, charged in connection with the murder of a police officer earlier this month, police said.

The man, who was not named, is charged with withholding information in connection with the murder, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. He is the third person charged in connection with the shooting death of Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, on March 9. The other two men, 37 and 17, have been charged with his murder, police said. Four others have been released in the case. Carroll was killed as he responded to a call in the town of Craigavon, in County Armagh. News reports said he was shot in the back of the head. The Continuity IRA, which does not accept the Good Friday peace accord, claimed responsibility for Carroll’s killing. The shooting happened two days after the murder of two soldiers at a base in Massereene, in County Antrim. It was the first fatal attack on British troops in the province for more than 12 years. One person is in custody in connection with the soldiers’ deaths, police said. The 41-year-old has not yet been charged, police said.

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The 41-year-old man is one of six suspected dissident republicans whose lawyers successfully challenged a court order granting detectives more time to question them in the case, British news reports said. The six were released without charge on instructions from a judge, a police spokeswoman said, but the 41-year-old was quickly rearrested.

The shooting of the soldiers sparked fears of a return to the sectarian violence that Northern Ireland suffered until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, a period known as The Troubles. Another militant splinter group, the Real IRA, reportedly claimed it had carried out the attack on the soldiers.