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Northern Ireland Police Question Two Suspects in Policeman Killing

Two men have been arrested near Belfast for Monday's murder of a policeman for which a splinter IRA group claimed responsibility. Authorities hope the interrogations will shed light on the fresh spate of violence.

Bed of flowers at scene of killings in Northern Ireland

Three people have been killed by IRA splinter groups near Belfast

On Tuesday, March 10, Northern Ireland detectives arrested the two men, aged 17 and 37, in connection with the murder of a fellow officer.

The Continuity IRA, a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army, previously claimed responsibility for the murder of Stephen Carroll, 48, the policeman shot in the head on Monday.

"As long as there is British involvement in Ireland, these attacks will continue," threatened the separatist group in a statement. The British army largely withdrew from Northern Ireland in 2007, but about 5,000 UK soldiers remain in the province.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, left, meets Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson, center, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Castle Buildings in Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland Monday March 9, 2009. Brown was in Northern Ireland Monday to meet with soldiers, police and political leaders following the first deadly attack on security forces there in 12 years.

Political leaders from all camps have united in condemning the attacks.

The two suspects were arrested in town of Craigavon, southwest of Belfast. Carroll, who had served 23 years with the police force, was the first police officer to be killed by terrorists in Northern Ireland since 1998.

Carroll was allegedly lured to the scene of the murder by a woman who had called for help, claiming that her window had been smashed with a brick.

Police said they were monitoring the situation and advised drivers to avoid the Ardowen area of Craigavon.

Blanket condemnations

A police officers patrols at the Massereene army barracks in Antrim, Northern Ireland

Police are also investigating the murder of two British soldiers on Saturday

The Monday killing follows on the heels of an ambush on Saturday night when two British soldiers were shot dead while waiting for a pizza delivery at their barracks in Antrim, north of Belfast.

Another separate dissident group -- the so-called called Real IRA -- has claimed responsibility for those shootings, which also injured two more soldiers and two civilians.

British and Irish political leaders of all parties have condemned the recent attacks and vowed that the violence would not disrupt the power-sharing arrangement between Protestant and Catholics in the Northern Ireland.

Dawn breaks over the Parliament Buildings at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Former Catholic and Protestant foes now share power in Belfast's parliament.

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness issued a strongly-worded condemnation of both attacks.

"These people are traitors to the island of Ireland and have betrayed the political desires, hopes and aspirations of all of the people who live on this island," he said. "They don't deserve to be supported by anyone."

Britain's Northern Ireland Minister Shaun Woodward vowed that the attackers would not achieve their separatist aims.

"They (republican dissidents) may have the power to take the life of a policeman or two unarmed soldiers but they do not have the power to stop the peace process," Woodward said in an official statement.

More than 3,500 people were killed in the four decades of sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, which came to an end with the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998.

The main group calling itself the IRA officially renounced violence in 2005, but splinter groups have continued to exist. This week's shootings are the worst incidents since the 1998 agreement.

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