The death of a 29-year-old journalist during riots in Northern Ireland on Thursday night is being considered a “terrorist incident,” police have confirmed.
Lyra McKee was shot and killed Thursday in Creggan, a heavily Catholic area of Londonderry, during a night of unrest in the Northern Irish city. Police said on Friday that dissident republican group the “New IRA” was likely responsible for her death.
“We believe this to be a terrorist act,” assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton said. “We believe it has been carried out by violent dissident republicans.”
Hamilton said a number of shots were fired at police, as well as petrol bombs.
"The death of Lyra McKee in last night's suspected terrorist incident in Londonderry is shocking and truly senseless. My deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues. She was a journalist who died doing her job with great courage,” prime minister Theresa May said in a statement Friday.
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar also condemned the attack in a statement.
“The Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the fatal shooting of journalist and writer Lyra McKee in Derry. We are all full of sadness after last night’s events. We cannot allow those who want to propagate violence, fear, and hate to drag us back to the past,” Varadkar said.
McKee was an internationally recognized journalist who had appeared on Forbes 30 under 30 list in media in 2016. Originally from Belfast, she was known for her coverage of the Northern Irish conflict and had recently signed a deal to publish two books.
The first book, “The Lost Boys,” was about the Troubles and a group of young boys who went missing in Belfast. It was set to be released next year.
McKee first gained prominence for a 2014 blog post called Letter To My 14-Year-Old Self, where she wrote about growing up gay in Belfast.
Her last tweet was sent from the scene of the unrest in Londonderry:
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. pic.twitter.com/0gk1Fa7Du0— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) April 19, 2019