Page last updated at 04:40 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Man charged over soldier murders

Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey
Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were killed earlier this month

Prominent dissident republican Colin Duffy will appear in court later charged with the murders of two soldiers outside barracks in Antrim.

Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were shot collecting pizza at the Massereene barracks on 7 March.

Mr Duffy, 41, faces eight charges; two counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm.

He is expected to appear at Larne Magistrates' Court later.

News of the charges came hours after more than 200 people in Lurgan, County Armagh, attended a meeting in support of Mr Duffy and his family.

Mark Simpson
Mark Simpson, Ireland correspondent

All 11 people arrested in the wake of the recent murders in Northern Ireland have now been either charged or released.

More than 300 police officers have been investigating the deaths of soldiers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey, and police officer Stephen Carroll.

It has been a high-profile investigation, but it has not been straightforward.

There were extraordinary scenes at Antrim police station on Wednesday when six suspects who had been held for more than 10 days were released on the orders of a judge - even though the police wanted to keep questioning them.

All were six were then formally released but the Lurgan republican, Colin Duffy, was re-arrested before he had time to leave the station.

There were protests in his home town on Thursday night at a public meeting held at a local community centre. Around 100 people attended the meeting which heard repeated calls for his release.

At the same time, 25 miles away at Antrim police station, Colin Duffy was being charged with the murder of the two soldiers, and six other charges.

As for the rest of the 11 people arrested earlier this month, seven were released without charge, two were charged with the murder of Constable Carroll and one was charged with withholding information.

On Thursday six suspects in the murders, including Mr Duffy, were released by the High Court after a legal challenge to their detention.

Mr Duffy was freed but re-arrested at Antrim police station a short time later.

The murder of the soldiers was followed by the killing of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon two days later.

Two men, a 17-year-old youth and a former Sinn Féin councillor, 37-year-old Brendan McConville, have been remanded in custody charged with the murder of Constable Carroll.

A 21-year-old man has been remanded in custody accused of withholding information in relation to the policeman's murder.

The dissident republican Real IRA shot Sappers Azimkar and Quinsey outside Massereene barracks, while the dissident republican Continuity IRA claimed the murder of Constable Carroll.

Four other people, including two pizza delivery men - Anthony Watson, 19, from Antrim and a Polish man in his 30s - were injured in the attack on the County Antrim barracks.

The two young soldiers were the first to be murdered in Northern Ireland in 12 years.

Constable Carroll's murder was the first of a police officer in NI since 1998.

Constable Frank O'Reilly was killed by a loyalist blast bomb during disturbances linked to the Drumcree dispute in 1998.

The last police officers murdered by republicans, RUC constables Roland John Graham and David Andrew Johnston, were shot dead by the IRA in Lurgan, County Armagh in June 1997.

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