BELFAST // A dissident Irish republican group said today its gunmen shot dead a policeman in Northern Ireland, the second attack in three days that has undermined the peace process in the British-ruled province. "As long as there is British involvement in Ireland, these attacks will continue," the Continuity IRA, a paramilitary splinter group, said a statement carried by British media. Politicians on the both sides of the sectarian divide said the renewed violence would not derail the peace process. The policeman was shot on Monday night while answering a call to a broken window in the town of Craigavon, 40km south-west of the province's capital Belfast, police said. On Saturday, two British soldiers were shot dead in an attack claimed by another republican splinter group, the Real IRA, whose name is styled on the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The British prime minister Gordon Brown said the latest wave of violence would not disrupt the peace process. "These are murderers who are trying to distort and disrupt and destroy a political process that is working for the people of Northern Ireland," Mr Brown said. "They will never be allowed to undermine the historic political process." Northern Ireland's police chief Hugh Orde blamed the latest killings on "cowards and criminals" and appealed for help from people who may be suspicious or fearful of the police. "I ask you to have the courage and confidence to come forward," he said in a statement. "Let us stand together." During the "Troubles", republicans viewed the province's police force, known then as the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), as a partisan extension of British political rule that sided with the Protestants. More than 300 RUC officers were killed. The RUC was disbanded and relaunched as the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2001 in an attempt to provide a more impartial force with support from Protestants and Catholics. The Irish president Mary McAleese urged people with information to come forward. "Dissident republicanism has been left far behind," she said. "Tell the police, join the peacemakers and put an end to this hell on earth." John O'Dowd, an assembly member for the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party, called it "an attack on the peace process" said it was a time for cool heads. *Reuters
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