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British Leader says Northern Ireland Peace Remains Unshakable 


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has visited Northern Ireland, following the killing of two British soldiers by extremists claiming to be from a splinter group called "the Real IRA".

Prime Minister Brown flew in to Northern Ireland to gauge the mood himself.

On Saturday, two British soldiers were shot and killed at the gates of Massereene Army base in County Antrim. Hours later, the republican splinter group "the Real IRA" claimed responsibility.

Mr. Brown spent the day at the base. He also met political leaders from all parties in the province and he later talked to reporters.

"The whole of the community of Northern Ireland is shocked and appalled by the horrible outrages, the murderous activities of a very small number of people," he said.

It is the deadliest attack in Northern Ireland in a decade. It is thought the Real IRA members number only in the dozens, but the group is still driven by a dream of forcing Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and into the Republic of Ireland.

But the world has moved on for the vast majority in the province, weary of decades of violence, and cementing the peace represents their future, a point underlined by the prime minister.

"What I have seen this morning is the unity of the people of Northern Ireland and the unity of the political parties that they stand united behind the peace and political process that they have been building for many, many years," he said. "That they are going to continue to work together and they want to send out a message to the world as I do that the political process will not, can never be shaken. In fact, the political process is now unshakeable."

Brown says the assailants must be hunted down and brought to justice as quickly as possible. The two slain soldiers were preparing to ship out for duties in southern Afghanistan when the attack came.

Politicians from all stripes have been unified in their condemnation of the killings.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams called it an attack on the peace process. He added it was wrong and counter- productive, and those responsible have no support from the community.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson called it a futile act by individuals whose campaign has no prospect of success.

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