Journalist killed after shots fired in Londonderry riot

Belfast Journalist Lyra McKee poses outside the Sunflower Bar on Union Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland. According to media reports, Lyra McKee was killed during riots in Londonderry (Derry) on 18 April 2019. [EPA-EFE/Jess Lowe]

Journalist Lyra McKee was killed after shots were fired during rioting in the Northern Irish city of Londonderry on Thursday (18 April) that saw police attacked by petrol bombs and other missiles.

After earlier appealing for calm when a number of shots were fired in the Irish nationalist Creggan area of the city, police confirmed shortly after midnight that the 29-year-old woman, who was said to be covering the unrest, had died.

“We are treating this as a terrorist incident and we have launched a murder enquiry,” Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said in a statement.

A local journalist at the scene, Leona O’Neill, wrote on Twitter that after the woman was hit and fell beside a police Land Rover, officers rushed her to hospital, where she died.

O’Neill had earlier posted videos of police vehicles being pelted with what she said were dozens of petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and fireworks. The videos showed two vehicles were left in the middle of the street and lit on fire.

The rioting was in response to a house search that a large number of officers conducted in the area, she said.

The detonation of a large car bomb outside a courthouse in Londonderry in January highlighted the threat still posed by militant groups opposed to a 1998 peace deal that largely ended three decades of violence in the British-run province. No one was injured in the blast.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to the city earlier on Thursday, as part of a trip to show support for the peace agreement politicians in Washington helped to broker.

The leaders of Northern Ireland’s two largest political parties, the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party and pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), both condemned the killing.

“Those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80s & 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019. No one wants to go back,” the DUP’s Arlene Foster said on Twitter.

crowdfunder has been set up in Lyra’s memory by Mike Harris and Padraig Reidy, friends of Lyra and fellow campaigners.

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