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N.Ireland police arrest 3 over soldier killings

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[March 14, 2009]  BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- Northern Ireland police arrested three men on Saturday over the killings of two British soldiers in a gun attack at an army base by suspected IRA dissidents.

Police in Belfast said that men aged 41, 32 and 21 were arrested in early raids at two separate locations and are being questioned by detectives.

Two Corps of Royal Engineers soldiers - Cengiz "Patrick" Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23 - were shot dead March 7 outside their army base in Antrim, west of Belfast, as they collected pizzas from delivery men. Two other soldiers and both Domino's Pizza couriers were badly wounded and remain hospitalized a week later.

Detectives are also continuing to question three suspects on suspicion of involvement in the killing of a policeman.

Irish Republican Army splinter groups responsible for a sudden jump in killings in Northern Ireland last struck on Monday when Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was shot fatally through the back of the head.

Police arrested two people - a 17-year-old boy and a 37-year-old man - the day after that killing in a hard-line Catholic neighborhood near the scene of the ambush. They arrested a third man aged in his mid-20s Friday night. None of the suspects has been publicly identified.

The hunt for the killers coincides with continuing public grief over Northern Ireland's descent back into bloodshed. A day after several thousand attended Carroll's funeral, Catholic and Protestant church leaders planned to rally the public Saturday afternoon at the army base in Antrim.

The dissidents trying to unravel the IRA's 1997 cease-fire insist they have no intention of ending their threat to kill British security forces and the civilians who work with them - the policy that the IRA pursued during its own 1970-97 campaign to force Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom.

[Associated Press; By SHAWN POGATCHNIK]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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