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Fri, Apr 19, 2019 2:02

Journalist shot dead in Northern Ireland rioting

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A journalist has been shot dead during violence in Londonderry that police are treating as a "terrorist incident".

A journalist has been shot dead during violence in Londonderry that police are treating as a "terrorist incident".

Dissident republicans are being blamed for killing 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night.

Petrol bombs were also thrown at police Land Rovers.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry.

Media captionLyra McKee's murder was a horrendous act, says PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton

"At around 23:00 BST last night a gunman appeared and fired a number of shots towards the police," he added.

"Lyra McKee, a young woman at 29 years old, was wounded.

"She was taken away from the scene in a police land rover to Altnagelvin Hospital but unfortunately she has died."

A journalist has been killed covering riots in Derry. Her name was Lyra McKee. She was 29. She recently signed a two-book deal with Faber, who called her a "rising star of investigative journalism". This is her last tweet, sent from the scene of the unrest.

The violence broke out after police raids on houses in the Mulroy Park and Galliagh areas.

"Violent dissident republicans are planning attacks in this city and we were carrying out a search operation in Creggan," said Mr Hamilton.

"We were looking for firearms that may have been used over the Easter weekend."

Media caption is understood police were attacked after carrying out searches in the Creggan area of Londonderry. Footage courtesy of Leona O'Neill

Rioting began at Fanad Drive in the city and more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at police and two vehicles hijacked and set on fire.

"I believe that this was orchestrated - orchestrated to a point that they just want to have violence and attack police," said Mr Hamilton.

"Bringing a firearm out is calculated and callous act."

One reporter who was at the scene said a gunman "came round the corner and fired shots indiscriminately towards police vehicles".

"There were a number of houses with families - they had all spilled out on the street to see what was happening," added Leona O'Neill.

"There were young people, there were children on the street, there were teenagers milling about and a gunman just fired indiscriminately up the street."

I was standing beside this young woman when she fell beside a police Land Rover tonight in Creggan #Derry. I called an ambulance for her but police put her in the back of their vehicle and rushed her to hospital where she died. Just 29 years old. Sick to my stomach tonight

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said the "intolerable actions" of those behind Ms. McKee's murder were "rejected by the overwhelming majority of people who want to build a peaceful and more prosperous future for everyone in Northern Ireland".

Archbishop Eamon Martin, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland tweeted to ask for people to pray for Ms. McKee's family.

On #GoodFriday morn, 21 yrs after our historic peace accord, we wake up to shocking news of pointless, violent death on the streets of #Derry. Please pray for her family, friends, and colleagues today who must now carry such a heavy cross of grief and pain. Rest in peace.

Sinn Féin's vice-president Michelle O'Neill said she was "shocked and saddened at the tragic news", adding: "I unreservedly condemn those responsible for killing this young woman."

DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted: "Heartbreaking news. A senseless act. A family has been torn apart."

The SDLP's Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan tweeted: "Just leaving Creggan, heartbroken and angry at the senseless loss of a young life.

"Violence only creates victims, that's all it ever has done. The thoughts and prayers of our city are with the young woman's family and friends, may she rest in peace."