Two teenage men have been arrested in the connection to the murder of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee. The men—aged 18 and 19—were arrested under the terrorism act and taken to a police station in Belfast for questioning. McKee, a prominent freelance journalist, was killed in Londonderry, which is known to many of the locals as Derry, on Thursday night while she covered a riot. Police had blamed a militant splinter group known as the New Irish Republican Army for the killing.
Police released video footage from surveillance cameras that captured McKee’s final moments in an effort to get the public to hand over information about the murder. The young journalist was standing near a police vehicle with other reporters when she was shot. The riot took place on the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, the 1998 deal that largely marked the end of decades of conflict. The New IRA group opposes the peace deal.
McKee is the first journalist to be killed in Northern Ireland since 2001, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At a vigil in Derry on Friday, McKee’s partner, Sara Canning, said McKee’s “amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act.” Canning also characterized McKee as a “tireless advocate and activist” and said the killing “has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with.” In 2016, McKee was named on a Forbes list of 30 remarkable media professionals under 30. She crowdsourced funds for her first book, Angels With Blue Faces, about the killing of a unionist lawmaker in 1981. Faber, the publisher, had signed a deal with McKee for two books, including one that as due to be published next year about the disappearance of boys and young men during the decades of violence in Northern Ireland.
Political leaders in Northern Ireland united to issue a joint call for calm and to condemn the killing. “Lyra’s murder was an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace and on the democratic processes,” leaders of the main six parties said in a statement. “This is a time for calm heads.”
Former President Bill Clinton, who was a key player in the Good Friday Agreement sent out a tweet saying he was “heartbroken” over the killing. “The challenges in NI today are real–but we cannot let go of the last 21 years of hard-won peace and progress,” Clinton wrote. “This tragedy is a reminder of how much everyone has to lose if we do.”
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