Two men arrested over murder of Irish journalist

A police officer lays flowers passed to her by members of the public at the scene where journalist Lyra McKee was shot during a riot in Londonderry. (AFP pic)

BELFAST: Two men have been arrested in connection with the shooting dead of journalist Lyra McKee during a riot in Londonderry, the Police Service of Northern Ireland announced on Sunday.

“Major Investigation Team detectives have arrested two men, aged 18 and 19 under the Terrorism Act, in connection with the murder,” the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement.

Republican political party Saoradh said a “republican volunteer” was trying to “defend people” from the police late Thursday when the shot was fired that “accidentally” hit McKee.

Belfast-born McKee, 29, had earlier posted an image from the riots, accompanied by the words “Derry tonight. Absolute madness.”

Images of the unrest posted on social media showed a car and van ablaze and hooded individuals throwing petrol bombs and fireworks at police vehicles.

Saoradh said “heavily armed” police went in to Creggan “to attack republicans in advance of upcoming Easter Rising Commemorations.”

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 Saoradh party denies claims it is the political wing of the New IRA.

McKee had written for The Atlantic magazine and Buzzfeed News and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2016 as one of their “30 under 30” outstanding figures, according to her literary agent Janklow & Nesbit.