British soldiers in County Antrim have come under fire in a gun attack on a military base.
Two soldiers died and there were four other casualties, including at least two other British military personnel, in the attack on Massereene Army base in Antrim, 16 miles north of Belfast.
The British Army’s 38 Engineer Regiment are currently stationed at the base. The shots were fired at around 10pm.
It is understod that there were two bursts of fire in an exchange of gunfire. A spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defence described the shooting as a “drive-by” attack.
One witness who lives near the base told he looked to the sky after hearing what he thought were fireworks.
He added: “Then I heard a lot of loud bangs again, only it was a lot more than there was initially - maybe between 10 and 20. Then the siren at the Army barracks went off.”
The attack followed news this week of the redeployment of the British Army’s Special Forces to the north of Ireland at the request of PSNI Chief Hugh Orde.
Earlier today, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams had warned Orde not to “open up the old agenda”.
“He has the popular support of the vast majority of republicans, provided he does the right thing,” Mr Adams said.
Republican Sinn Fein and Eirigi also denounced this week’s British military deployment.
Eirigi spokesman Breandan Mac Cionnaith said: “Eirigi makes no apology for calling on all those who remain opposed to the British occupation of the Six Counties to refocus themselves on the task of building popular resistance to that occupation.”
No group has yet claimed responsiblity for the shooting, but early speculation has pointed to the relatively new Oglaigh na hEireann [IRA]. The group is believed to consist mainly of former members of the Provisional IRA.
Last month, Oglaigh na hEireann abandoned a bomb intended for a British army base at Ballykinlar in County Down short of its target.