A hunt is underway for gunmen who shot dead two British soldiers in Northern Ireland.
The victims were mown down as they collected a takeaway meal outside their military base, then shot in the head as they lay on the ground. Their killers are reported to be members of the Real IRA, a splinter group from the largely disbanded guerrilla movement, the Irish Republican Army The attack was the worst since an historic Irish peace deal was signed in 1998. Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “No murderer will be able to derail a peace process that has the support of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland, and we will step up our efforts to make sure the peace process is one that lasts and endures.” The peace accord ended 30 years of violence between guerrilla groups from the minority Roman Catholic community and pro-British Protestants. The region was enjoying calm and prosperity unprecedented in modern times. The killings of the British soldiers are seen as a terrible reminder of the past. Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson said: “We are absolutely determined that we will not allow these people to set our agenda. We are determined that they will not drag us back to the bad old days from which we have come”. Concerns had been raised over the stability of the current power-sharing government, which unites former arch enemies across the Protestant-Catholic divide. Politicians from all sides in Northern Ireland have condemned the attacks saying extremists who might have carried out the shootings have no support. The peace of Northern Ireland has been tested before and now it is under scrutiny and pressure once again.