Three arrested over Real IRA murder of soldiers

Sat, Mar 14, 2009, 00:00

Three men have been arrested over the Real IRA murder of two British soldiers in Antrim last weekend.

A PSNI spokeswoman said the men aged 41, 32 and 21 were detained and taken to the Antrim serious crime suite for questioning.

The 41-year-old is understood to be a senior republican who broke away from the Provisional Republican movement. His house is being examined by teams in forensic suits in Lurgan, Co Armagh. The two other men were arrested raids in Lurgan and Bellaghy, Co Derry.

The two soldiers, Patrick Azimkar (21) and Mark Quinsey (23) were ambushed by the dissident republican gunmen as they took a pizza delivery outside their Massereene Barracks base hours before flying off to Afghanistan last Saturday night.

The PSNI are examining CCTV footage from the area of the barracks and they also found what is believed to be the gunmen’s getaway car seven miles from the scene of the murders.

The green Vauxhall Cavalier TDZ 7309 was found in Randalstown, Co Antrim, and had been bought two weeks earlier.

It is understood the gunmen had tried to burn the car out, but it had not ignited. The claim has led to speculation that the discovery of the car may have provided police with opportunities to secure forensic evidence.

Two days later Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon, Co Armagh, after responding to a call from a member of the public.

Police investigating this killing arrested a man in his 20s last night and he joins men aged 17 and 37 being questioned by police.

A prayer service is being held in Antrim town today to remember the soldiers. A spokeswoman for Antrim Borough Council said: “The event, organised by Antrim Borough Council in conjunction with the local clergy, is to allow the public to come together one week after the atrocity which saw two young soldiers murdered and four other young men shot in such a cruel and callous way.”

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have flown to the US for a pre-arranged St Patrick’s Day trip which will carry extra importance now as they seek to reassure investors and the US administration of the province’s stability.

Meanwhile, tonight the PSNI came under petrol bomb attack from masked gangs tonight after the arrests.

Gangs took to the streets in Lurgan, Co Armagh, and police were pelted with stones before petrol bombs were hurled at PSNI vehicles.