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N. Ireland cops given more time to probe soldier, police killings

  • Story Highlights
  • Ruling lets authorities hold two suspects in officer's shooting an extra seven days
  • Investigation into two soldiers' slayings given more time, too. Four arrested in case
  • Killings were the first political murders of police or soldiers in province since 1998
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(CNN) -- Police investigating the killing of a police officer and two soldiers in Northern Ireland have been given more time to question suspects, the Police Service of Northern Ireland announced Sunday.

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

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

A court granted authorities an extra seven days to hold two suspects in the March 10 shooting of policeman Stephen Carroll, 48.

Separately, police will have more time to question three men in the killings of British soldiers Cengiz "Pat" Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23, on March 7, the recorded announcement on the PSNI media line said.

A total of seven people have been arrested in connection with the Carroll killing, and four in the shooting of the soldiers. The shootings raised fears that Northern Ireland could be plunged back into the sectarian violence that left about 3,600 dead over the course of three decades.

But political leaders from across the spectrum condemned the killings, and so far the violence has not escalated.

Republican splinter groups, which want Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic of Ireland, claimed responsibility for both incidents, according to British media reports.

Police have seven additional days starting Sunday to question two Carroll suspects: a 37-year-old-male and a 30-year-old female, both arrested on March 14.

They have an additional seven days starting Saturday to question two men detained in the soldiers' deaths: a 31-year-old and a 32-year-old. The court also granted authorities six more days starting Saturday to question a 21-year-old man connected to that case. The announcement did not say which court granted the extensions.

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The various suspects in the two cases were arrested over the course of several days, meaning the police do not have to apply at the same time for extensions to question all of them.

The killings were the first political murders of police or soldiers in the province since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 took effect.

CNN's Per Nyberg contributed to this report.

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