Monday, March 9, 2009

Pledges of unity follow Northern Ireland attack

Catholic and Protestant congregations in Antrim walked at midday from their churches to the scene of the killing.

Ministers from the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches took turns praying for the dead and wounded, for the IRA dissidents to give up, and for their leaders to stay on a path to reconciliation. The crowd reached several hundred.

In Washington, a spokesman for Obama condemned the attack. "Those who perpetrated these cowardly acts do not represent the will of the people of Northern Ireland, who have chosen a path of peace and reconciliation," said Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council.

On Saturday night, scores of Corps of Royal Engineers soldiers based at Massereene ordered pizzas - a final meal before boarding a flight to Afghanistan for a six-month tour. The four soldiers were already wearing their desert camouflage fatigues when they met the two delivery men.

Police Chief Superintendent Derek Williamson said all six were believed wounded during the initial volley of bullets, then the gunmen got out of their vehicle and shot their victims again as they lay on the ground.

Williamson said the two fatal victims were royal engineers in their early 20s but did not give their names. Their unit departed yesterday for Afghanistan after giving statements to police.

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