Two teens held after killing of N. Irish journalist

Updated April 21, 2019

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A woman signs a book of condolences in the Guildhall for the 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee who was shot dead in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. ─ Reuters
A woman signs a book of condolences in the Guildhall for the 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee who was shot dead in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. ─ Reuters

LONDON: Two teenagers have been arrested over the killing of a journalist shot dead in Northern Ireland, police said on Saturday, after a murder that has triggered international condemnation.

The 18 and 19-year-old men were arrested in Londonderry under anti-terror laws and taken to Belfast for questioning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

Journalist Lyra McKee, 29, was shot in the head late Thursday in Derry, police believe, by dissident republicans linked to the New IRA paramilitary group as they clashed with police in Northern Ireland’s second city.

Detectives hunting the gunman had released security camera footage of the unrest on Derry’s Creggan estate, hoping that the community would help trace her killers.

The footage showed McKee standing with other reporters by a police vehicle, and the suspected gunman. Images on social media showed a car and van ablaze and hooded individuals throwing petrol bombs and fireworks at police vehicles.

Police chief Mark Hamilton said on Friday “a single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms McKee”.

Some officials blamed Thursday’s unrest on the “New IRA”, a republican paramilitary group opposed to the shift towards non-violent tactics to bring about a united Ireland.

The New IRA (Irish Republican Army) is an amalgam of armed groups violently opposed to Northern Ireland’s peace process. It claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to London and Glasgow in March.

The IRA sought Northern Ireland’s integration into the Republic of Ireland through violence.

The group called a final ceasefire in 1997 and announced an end to its armed campaign in 2005, stating that it would seek to achieve its aims through peaceful political means.

Dissident splinter groups have sought to continue.

The 1998 Good Friday peace deal largely brought an end to three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland between republican and unionist paramilitaries, as well as British armed forces, in a period known as “the Troubles”.

There have been concerns that paramilitaries could be seeking to exploit the current political turbulence over Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic of Ireland, caused by Brexit.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019