Police in Northern Ireland charged a man, reportedly leading republican Colin Duffy, with the murder of two British soldiers earlier this month, the deadliest attack in the province in more than a decade.
AFP - A 41-year-old man, reportedly prominent republican Colin Duffy, was charged Thursday with the murders of two British soldiers outside their barracks in Northern Ireland, police in Belfast said.
"A 41-year-old man has tonight been charged with eight offences, that is two kinds of murder, five kinds of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life," a spokeswoman said.
The charges relate to the fatal shootings of two soldiers as they collected pizza outside their barracks in Masserene, northwest of Belfast, on March 7, in an attack which also left several other people injured.
Britain's domestic news agency, the Press Association, said the charged man is Colin Duffy, who has distanced himself from mainstream Republican party Sinn Fein since it agreed to share power with pro-London Protestant unionists.
The murder of the soldiers was followed within 48 hours by the murder of on-duty police constable Stephen Carroll, the first such killing in 11 years, sparking fears of a return to sectarian violence in the British-ruled province.
Duffy was arrested on March 14 but released Wednesday -- along with five others held over the three killings -- following a successful High Court appeal against his extended detention. He was immediately re-arrested.
His original arrest over the murder of sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Cengiz "Patrick" Azimkar, 21, sparked violence, with gangs of youths throwing petrol bombs at police near Duffy's home in Lurgan, southwest of Belfast.
The murders were claimed by the Real IRA (Irish Republican Army), paramilitaries who broke off from the main IRA in 1997.
While the IRA has renounced violence, the Real IRA and other dissident republican groups continue to oppose the peace process launched in 1998, which largely brought to an end three decades of civil strife known as the Troubles.
Duffy came to prominence in the 1990s after being acquitted of the IRA murder of a soldier when it emerged that a key witness was a loyalist paramilitary committed to Northern Ireland being part of Britain.
He was later arrested over the IRA murder of two police officers in 1997, but the case against him collapsed amid huge controversy. His lawyer received threats and was later murdered in a car bomb attack at her home in 1999.
Duffy will appear at Larne Magistrates' Court on Friday, police said.
Three people have been charged in connection with Carroll's death.
Date created : 2009-03-27