(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –A prominent young journalist was killed during a night of rioting in Londonderry on Thursday, in what police in Northern Ireland have described as a “terrorist incident.”
Dissident republicans are believed to be responsible for the death of Lyra McKee, 29, who was shot during violent unrest in the Creggan area of the city, according to police. Images from the scene showed cars alight as a crowd threw fireworks and petrol bombs at emergency vehicles.
The city — which is referred to by Irish nationalists as Derry and British unionists as Londonderry — is a short drive from the border with the Republic of Ireland.
McKee was standing close to a police vehicle when she was wounded by a single gunman firing shots into a residential area. She died soon after from her injuries, assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton told reporters Friday. Police do not know if she was working as a journalist at the time, or was in the city for personal reasons.
During a news conference on Friday, Hamilton described the death of McKee as “horrendous and unjustified” and appealed for calm. Overnight he announced that police were treating the shooting as a “terrorist incident” and had launched a murder inquiry.
McKee, according to literary agents Janklow & Nesbit UK, was born in Belfast, and had written for a number of publications, including The Atlantic and Buzzfeed News.
In 2016, she was named as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 in media in Europe.
She is the first journalist to be killed in the United Kingdom since 2001, according to nonprofit organization the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Hamilton confirmed that police suspect the shooting was carried out by dissident republicans, namely the New Irish Republican Army (IRA).