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New killings 'not a return to old days' in N. Ireland, says Brown

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, March 10, IRNA -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted Tuesday that the sudden eruption of killings in Northern Ireland was not a return 'to the old days' of the conflict in the Europe's most polarized society.

"These are murderers who are trying to distort, disrupt and destroy a political process that is working for the people of Northern Ireland," Brown said.

The shooting of police officer Paul Carroll in Craigavon, southwest of Belfast on Monday followed the double murder of two British soldiers who died in a hail of gunfire outside the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, northwest of the capital, over the weekend.

The Continuity IRA, the clandestine armed wing of Republican Sinn Fein (RSF), which split from Sinn Fein in 1986, claimed responsibility for fatal shooting of policeman. Another splinter group, the Real IRA, said it had carried out the killing of the soldiers, the first in over a decade.

The latest killing came after Brown made an unscheduled visit to Belfast on Monday, when he stressed that the people of Northern Ireland were united and said the 'political process will not and can never be shaken'.

But in a reported coded message Tuesday, the CIRA warned, "As long as there is British involvement in Ireland, these attacks will continue."

Politicians from all sides in the UK and Ireland have condemned the killings, while the chief constable of Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI), Sir Hugh Orde, appealed for help in catching those responsible for the latest shooting.

Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern went as far as saying that the dissidents opposed to the 1998 peace agreement were unwittingly wrecking their goal of a united Ireland.

The two main parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein, pledged to work together to ensure that the political process survived despite the rising terror levels.

Despite the relative calm in Northern Ireland in recent years, dissident groups are reported to have mounted 18 gun and bomb attacks since the beginning of 2008, including three carried out in the early months of this year.

Speaking on BBC radio, Northern Ireland secretary ruled out a return to troops on the streets in the disputed province, making clear he did not want a return to the past.

"The public are saying they do not want the past and what they want is the new future that Northern Ireland has secured through the peace process, and it's the public who made it clear to me ... is that what these people will not do is succeed in undermining the peace process," Woodward said.

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