The British prime minister has condemned as “evil and cowardly” an attack on a Northern Ireland army base in which two British soldiers died.
Four other people were hurt, two of them seriously, when gunmen pulled up in a vehicle and opened fire last night. Gordon Brown said the perpetrators will not succeed. “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 the peace process one that lasts and endures,” he said. The gunmen struck as the soldiers were taking delivery of a pizza. One local councillor said action must be taken to prevent the province from descending into such violence. Thomas Burns, SDLP councillor for Antrim said: “This would look to be very much like a dissident Republican attack. This is a devastating blow here to us in Antrim and to the Northern Ireland peace porcess. We are seeing bad old days again, whre people have been killed in open attacks.” No group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Massereene base near Antrim. It followed a warning from a police chief that the threat posed by republican dissidents was at its highest for nearly a decade. There have also been reports that British special forces were back in Northern Ireland to gather intelligence. Last night’s attack was one of the worst since the 1998 peace deal which ended 30 years of political and sectarian conflict during which more than 3,000 people were killed.