March 14, 2009 / 11:52 AM / 11 years ago

Three men arrested over killing of British soldiers

Police forensic experts attend the scene outside Massereene army base after two British soldiers were shot dead and four other people wounded in a shooting on Saturday, in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland March 8, 2009. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

BELFAST (Reuters) - Police in Northern Ireland said on Saturday they had arrested three men in connection with the killing of two British soldiers by militants seeking to rid the province of British influence by force.

The three arrested on Saturday ranged in ages from 21 to 41.

The Real IRA, a splinter group of the IRA which called a ceasefire in 1997, shot dead the two soldiers on Saturday in the deadliest act of violence in Northern Ireland in over a decade.

The attack was followed two days later by the killing of a police officer by another splinter organization, the Continuity IRA. Three men are being questioned over that shooting.

The attacks shattered relative calm brought by a 1998 peace deal which ended 30 years of violence between the Irish Republican Army (IRA), seeking a united Ireland, and groups wanting to maintain the union with Britain.

Politicians on both sides of Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide have vowed the violence will not derail the peace process, but many people in the British province fear more attacks will happen.

Reporting by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by Giles Elgood

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