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1 convicted in killing of British soldier in Northern Ireland

By Anna Tomforde –

LONDON — A leading dissident Republican in Northern Ireland was Friday given a life term for the murder of two British soldiers in the province, while his co-defendant was acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

The two soldiers were ambushed by gunmen posing as pizza delivery men outside Massereene Barracks in Antrim in March 2009, on the eve of their planned deployment to Afghanistan.

The attack, which claimed the lives of military engineers Patrick Azimkar, 21 and Mark Quinsey, 23, was the first on the British army in Northern Ireland since 1997 — the year before the peace accord of 1998.

The Real IRA, a splinter group of the former Irish Republican Army opposed to the peace process, claimed responsibility for the Massereene attack.

But Colin Duffy, a 44-year-old long-term Republican, was acquitted of murdering the soldiers. His co-defendant, 46-year-old Brian Shivers, received a life term at the end of a trial based largely on DNA evidence.

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