IRA Says it Killed 2 in N. Ireland

<i> Associated Press</i>

Two men apparently connected with Protestant paramilitary activities were shot dead in south Belfast on Sunday, police said. The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility.

The killings were the first since Sinn Fein, the IRA’s political party ally, rejected a demand that the IRA lay down its weapons before Sinn Fein could participate in British-Irish talks on Northern Ireland’s future.

Police briefly chased and shot at the vehicle from which the fatal shots were fired, witnesses said. But the search for the gunmen was complicated by a series of bomb alerts in the area. Police said no bombs were found.