Two days after two British soldiers were shot dead in Northern Ireland,unidentified gunmen killed a police officer on Monday,the police said,reinforcing a challenge to the authorities to maintain a mood of reconciliation underpinning a still uncertain peace.
The police officer,identified as Stephen Carroll,a 48-year-old married man with three children,was shot in the head through the rear window of his patrol car as he responded to an emergency call on a housing estate,the police said.
The killing came late on the same day as Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Northern Ireland to insist that the protracted peace effort beginning with the Good Friday agreement in 1998 could not be reversed,despite the death of two soldiers outside a British army base in Antrim on Saturday. The soldiers were shot hours before they were set to depart for Afghanistan.
There will be no return to the old days, Brown said on Tuesday. These are murderers who are trying to distort,disrupt and destroy a political process that is working for the people of Northern Ireland. They will never be allowed to destroy or undermine the political process.
The killing was the first of a serving police officer in over a decade. News reports said a Republican splinter group called the Continuity IRA took responsibility for shooting the police officer.