Army base ‘on high alert before murder of soldiers’

The army base where two soldiers were gunned down by dissident republicans in the North was on high alert weeks beforehand, it was claimed tonight.

The best friend of one of the victims made the allegation after last month's shooting at Massereene Barracks, Antrim.

Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham and Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London, were shot dead as they accepted a pizza delivery at the gates.

Mr Quinsey's friend Craig Wilson said: ``If he was killed in Afghanistan it would have been more understandable, he was at war fighting for his country and so on, but being murdered in that way, it's gut-wrenching.''

The information was revealed by UTV.

Four other people, including two pizza delivery men, were injured on March 7 by the Real IRA attack.

Another dissident republican group, the Continuity IRA, shot PC Stephen Carroll, 48, dead two days later.

Mr Wilson recalled a conversation with Mr Quinsey on his last visit home to Birmingham in February. He was due to travel to Afghanistan hours after he was shot.

``The subject came onto paramilitaries and we were looking at stuff on the internet and I said 'Don't worry about Afghanistan it's the paramilitaries that you wanna worry about' just as a joke to try and lighten the mood a bit,'' he said.

``And he said to me that 'no, I've got no worries, my base where I'm going, Massereene Barracks are on a high alert stage'.''

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