Police in Northern Ireland arrested two men in their teens in connection with the fatal shooting of a freelance journalist amid nighttime rioting in Londonderry late Thursday.
The men, aged 18 and 19, are being held under the Terrorism Act at a police station in Belfast, Press Association reported Saturday, citing the police. Lyra McKee, 29, died on Thursday after shots were fired during riots in the Creggan area of the city. Police linked her death to dissident republicans.
The shooting took place after police searches in one district of the city, and McKee was likely mistakenly hit rather than deliberately targeted.
The so-called New IRA was probably behind the killing, according to police.
“We are all full of sadness after last night’s events,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said. “We cannot allow those who want to propagate violence, fear and hate to drag us back to the past.”
Police on Friday released closed-circuit TV images showing McKee standing near a police vehicles during the operation. In the video, a masked attacker leans out from behind cover and appears to fire shots towards the police and onlookers.
Tributes to the 29-year-old were led by her partner, Sara Canning, who told a crowd at a vigil that McKee’s “amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act.”
The episode is a reminder of the lingering tensions in the region. The walled city of Derry has been inextricably linked with the Northern Irish conflict, since “Bloody Sunday” in 1972 when British troops shot dead 13 unarmed civilians.
While violence has largely died out since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, tensions continue to simmer, possibly fermented by Brexit. Derry is closely bound to the EU, with about 78 percent of voters backing “remain” in the 2016 referendum.
In January, a car bomb exploded in the city, and some Irish politicians have warned that a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit could further stoke tensions.
Still, there there seems little prospect of the widespread conflict that claimed 3,500 lives erupting again. In the year through April, two security related deaths were recorded, three fewer than occurred during the previous year.
“This news, coming on Good Friday, is a dark reminder to us all that our peace is fragile and that we must protect it every day from those who want to shatter the progress that we have made,” said Colum Eastwood, a local member of the region’s power-sharing assembly.