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Rioting follows arrests in N. Ireland soldier killings

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  • NEW: Petrol bombs hurled at police after arrests in connection with soldiers' killings
  • Three arrested over slayings of two soldiers in Northern Ireland last week
  • Three men also being held in Monday's killing of police officer
  • Two republican groups have reportedly claimed responsibility for the killings
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(CNN) -- Rioting has flared near Belfast on Saturday after the arrests of three men in the killings of two soldiers in Northern Ireland last week, police said.

Soldiers Cengiz Azimkar, left, and Mark Quinsey were killed March 7 at a base in Massereene.

Two people in masks prepare to throw petrol bombs Saturday in Lurgan, Northern Ireland.

Petrol bombs have been hurled at police in Lurgan, a town in County Armagh, 20 miles west of Belfast, police in Northern Ireland said. There are gangs of youths on the streets, authorities said, but there have been no arrests or injuries.

Police announced the arrests on Saturday and said the three men have been taken to the police service's Serious Crime Suite in County Antrim. One of them, a dissident republican named Colin Duffy, is from Lurgan.

They are the first arrests in connection with the March 7 shootings, which were the first fatal attack on British troops in the province for more than 12 years.

The two British soldiers were shot dead at a base in Massereene, in Antrim, as they were preparing to ship out for duty in Afghanistan.

The soldiers, Cengiz "Pat" Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23, had already packed their bags and changed into desert uniforms, authorities said.

Two masked gunmen with automatic rifles shot them as the soldiers picked up a pizza delivery at the barracks, authorities said. Two other soldiers and the two pizza delivery men were seriously wounded.

The shooting has sparked fears of a return to the sectarian violence that Northern Ireland suffered until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, a period known as The Troubles.

A militant splinter group, the Real IRA, reportedly claimed it had carried out the attack on the soldiers.

Two days after the soldiers were killed, a police officer was killed in a shooting southwest of Belfast. Constable Stephen Carroll was one of four officers who were responding to call in Craigavon when his vehicle came under fire and he was killed. Three people have been arrested in connection with the police officer's death.

The Continuity IRA, a republican splinter group that does not accept the Good Friday Agreement, said it had killed Carroll, Britain's Press Association reported.

Politicians from across the political spectrum have condemned the killings, with Sinn Fein deputy leader Martin McGuinness calling the killers "traitors to the island of Ireland."

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Sinn Fein is a predominantly Catholic party that wants Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and become part of the Republic of Ireland. The party is widely thought to be linked to the Irish Republican Army.

Danny Kennedy, deputy leader of the loyalist Ulster Unionist Party, which wants Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, also condemned the attack as "wicked and murderous."

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