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Veteran prison officer shot dead
First Minister Peter Robinson has condemned the killing of a prison officer on his way to work at Maghaberry jail
A long-serving prison officer has been murdered in a motorway ambush by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.
David Black, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, had more than 30 years' service in the Prison Service and was approaching retirement.
He was ambushed by a gunman on Northern Ireland's M1 motorway early on Thursday morning as he drove to begin duty at the top security Maghaberry jail near Lisburn, Co Antrim.
Even though no organisation has admitted responsibility, security chiefs believe republicans opposed to the peace process were involved. The extremists have been involved in long-running protests against jail conditions inside Maghaberry.
Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness condemned the murder. "At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family and we condemn this murder in the strongest possible terms," they said in a joint statement.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "First and foremost, this is a dreadful tragedy for the family and friends of David Black, who has been so brutally murdered as he went about his work keeping the people of Northern Ireland safe. My heart goes out to them.
"The Government I lead will do whatever we can to help the PSNI bring the perpetrators to justice. These killers will not succeed in denying the people of Northern Ireland the peaceful, shared future they so desperately want."
Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Matt Baggott said: "It was a completely senseless attack. It demonstrated the recklessness and ruthlessness and sheer dangerousness of those who oppose peace and are dedicated to taking us back to those dark days of the past.
"This has all the hallmarks of dissident republicans. This was just a brutal attack and we need the public's support to be able to solve it as quickly as possible. David was dedicated, a person keeping people safe, and we need to respect that and recognise that."
Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris said the gunman was in a Toyota Camry with a Dublin registration which drew alongside Mr Black's black Audi. "From that car it appears that shots were fired at Mr Black," he said.