Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Sunday, 8 March 2009

Vigil held after Antrim murders

Vigil in County Antrim
People gather at the vigil in County Antrim on Sunday afternoon

Church goers have held a vigil following the killing of two soldiers at an army base in Antrim.

Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist members were among those who prayed for the victims of the attack on Sunday afternoon.

Traffic was brought to a halt as they gathered at the police cordon near the murder scene at Massereene army base.

Two soldiers died and four other people were injured in the attack on Saturday night.

On Sunday, a number of local people laid flowers at the scene of the murder.

Local Catholic priest Fr Tony Devlin said the community was united in shock and sorrow.

"We don't want to go back to this," he said. "Nobody wants to go back to this in any way at all. None of us want it in any way at all and we pray that those who engage in this will just stop it. "

The regimental chaplain from Massereene barracks, Reverend Philip McCormack, said the troops were bearing the loss of their colleagues in a professional way.

"It's a very close-knit unit," he said. "People care a tremendous amount, they spent weeks and months training and preparing (for Afghanistan) and so anything like this will obviously have a profound impact.

"But they are very professional and we still have a job to do and we will mourn and deal with this and then we will do our job."

Sympathy

Church leaders across Northern Ireland have expressed their revulsion at the shootings.

The Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Donald Patton, described the attack as shocking.

"This is an attack on our whole society and on the process in which we are engaged that is moving us into the future and which nothing must be allowed to hinder," he said.

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, the Right Reverend Alan Abernethy, said the attack was "an evil act that cannot be justified".

The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Rev Aian Ferguson, also expressed his sympathy and said he prayed that the attack did not "herald the approach of darker days for our country".

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