Two killed in gun attack in Northern Ireland

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Location of Antrim within Northern Ireland

Two British Army soldiers have been killed in a gun attack outside an army base in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The attack occurred at 21:40 GMT outside the Massereene army base, home to 38 Engineering Regiment, 16 miles north west of Belfast. According to the police four others, two other soldiers and two civilians, have been hurt, one critically.

In the incident, described as a drive-by shooting by a Ministry of Defence spokesperson, an estimated thirty to forty rounds were fired at the soldiers, who were taking a pizza delivery. The two civilians injured being the pizza delivery men.

Although no party has yet claimed responsibility, the attack bears the hallmarks of dissident Republicans.

Jeffrey Donaldson, a Democratic Unionist lawmaker, said that he believed that gunmen armed with automatic weapons had entered the barracks, possibly disguised as pizza delivery men. "This is a terrible reminder of the consequences of terrorism. We've had this in the past and no-one wants to see this happening in Northern Ireland," he said.

A witness who lived near the area where the shooting took place said to the BBC that he first thought that the gunshots were fireworks, but "...then I heard a lot of loud bangs again, only it was a lot more than there was initially - maybe between 10 and 20. Then the siren at the Army barracks went off. Then all you heard was the police sirens and ambulances and there was at least six ambulances."

The deaths, the first of British soldiers in Northern Ireland in twelve years, comes just days after news broke that intelligence of an imminent attack had been received and the deployment of a special forces reconnaissance detachment to Northern Ireland.


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