Man (37) and youth held over policeman's murder

 

Police investigating the killing of a PSNI officer in Co Armagh last night have arrested a 37-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy.

Both area assisting police with their enquiries into the murder of 48-year-old Constable Stephen Paul Carroll who was shot dead while he sat in his police vehicle in the Lismore Manor area of the town.

The youth was arrested earlier today in the Craigavon area. The PSNI said the 37-year-old man was also arrested in the Craigavon area at about 5pm. He is being questioned at the Antrim serious crimes unit.

The dissident republican group, the Continuity IRA, has claimed responsibility for the murder of Constable Carroll who was from the Banbridge area.

The murder occurred just 48 hours after the Real IRA murdered two unarmed British soldiers in Antrim town on Saturday night.

The PSNI today released further details of the attack including a description of man seen fleeing the murder scene.

Constable Carroll died when he was shot in the back of the head as police responded to a call from a member of the public in the Lismore Manor.

Constable Carroll was with two other tactical support group members providing cover, support and protection for two neighbourhood officers, when he was ambushed.

They were in a back-up car as two colleagues who had travelled separately spoke with a distressed woman after her window had been smashed.

Fearing it might be an attempt to draw them into a line of fire, they delayed their response for an hour before driving into the Lismore Manor housing development at Craigavon.

The two investigating officers got out to visit the woman’s house, while the other three waited. A gunman then emerged out of the darkness and fired twice through the rear window of Constable Carroll’s Skoda.

In a press briefing just yards from where the attack took place earlier today, PSNI Chief Superintendent Alan Todd made an appeal for information about a person seen fleeing from the scene of the murder.

"I would appeal to people who live in the area or travel through the area, I have a specific appeal about a man in a light-coloured top seen running away from the scene. We need to identify him. It is of the utmost importance to our enquiry," he said.

In a coded message released earlier, the Continuity IRA said the shooting in Craigavon was carried out by its north Armagh battalion. It said: "As long as there is British involvement in Ireland, these attacks will continue."

Police today carried out a series of raids on two houses in the Drumbeg Estate, directly behind the cul-de-sac where Constable Carroll was murdered.

A heavy force of officers swept into the estate and targeted two properties. One of the properties, an end-of-terrace, directly overlooks the scene where the police officer was shot dead. Forensic officers in white overalls entered the houses as a strong force of armed police stood guard.

The PSNI said this afternoon an 17-year-old teenager had been taken into custody and was assisting police with their enquiries in the Antrim Serious Crime Suite.

The PSNI suspect the original emergency call was a deliberate attempt to lure the police into a trap.

PSNI chief constable Sir Hugh Orde briefed Members of the Policing Board earlier amid calls for a review of security operations in the North.

The Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy also spoke with the Sir Hugh, on behalf of An Garda Síochána and extended his sincere condolences on the tragic death of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon last night.

Mr Murphy said: "The murders carried out in the last number of days in Northern Ireland represent a serious attack on the fundamentals of democracy itself and An Garda Síochána will do everything within its power to assist and co-operate with the Police Service of Northern Ireland to bring those responsible to justice."

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said those responsible for killing of Constable Carroll last night would not be allowed to drag Northern Ireland back to the past.

Mr Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness postponed a planned visit to the United States following news of the latest attack by dissident republicans.

At a press conference earlier today, Sir Hugh said: "We are used to being attacked, but we will not step back. It is a sad day for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

"Today a police officer with his colleagues responding to a call for help from a vulnerable person in the community was gunned down.

"Let me be very clear on a couple of things. First of all, this will not put off me or my officers delivering the service we do to the communities we paid to protect. That will continue unrelenting as it has done in the threat that we have been facing for nine to 12 months.

"We will continue to deliver that service regardless of the threat but mindful of it."

Asked if the Massereene murders were linked to last night¿s killing, Sir Hugh said: "I think you are giving (the attackers) credit they ill deserve. I think these are disparate groups, badly infiltrated and indeed many awaiting trial north and south of the Border.

"It just reminds us that a small group of people determined to wreck what is huge political progress are becoming more dangerous.

He has appealed for help from the community in catching the policeman's killers. Sir Hugh said the killing "has got to stop and I have a direct appeal to the community to help us to do so.

"We need people with information to come forward. My police officers are men and women from within this community - your community - who have opted to protect and serve you. They are your neighbours.

The North’s fledgling Policing Board also condemned the killing as a “cold, cowardly and callous” attack.

“We send a clear message to those who carried this out that they have no mandate and do not have the support of the vast majority of right thinking people in Northern Ireland, who wish to see the peace and political progress continue,” a statement from the board said.

”This attack, and the attack at Antrim on Saturday night, has sent shockwaves across our community bringing an unwelcome reminder of our troubled past.

Day and daily police officers are out working in the community, dealing with the issues of concern to the community. That was what this officer was doing last night and that is what his colleagues are doing today,” the board said.

Additional reporting by PA