By Muhammad Mussa
LONDON (AA) - Two teenagers have been arrested in Northern Ireland on Saturday in connection with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee during intense riots on Thursday night, police said.
The suspects, aged 18 and 19, have been detained under anti-terrorism legislation by the police services of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and have been taken to a police station in Belfast for questioning.
“Major Investigation Team detectives have arrested two men, aged 18 and 19 under the Terrorism Act, in connection with the murder of Lyra McKee in the Creggan area of Derry on Thursday, 18th April. They have been taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite,” the PSNI said in a statement.
CCTV footage released by the police on Friday shows McKee standing in a crowd of civilians next to police vehicles. Opposite the civilian crowd, a hooded figure can be seen holding a gun. The individual can be seen crouching behind a wall and firing the gun towards the police vehicles and another individual appears to be collecting what is thought to be bullet casings.
Further vigils are due to be held for the 29-year-old journalist across Northern Ireland. Her murder has been condemned by politicians from across the political spectrum and has brought the general public together in calling for peace and stability.
“Lyra’s murder was also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic processes,” read a joint statement from Northern Ireland’s six main parties, including the DUP and Sinn Fein, adding that “this is a time for calm heads”.
Prime Minister Theresa May in a statement on Twitter called the murder “shocking and truly senseless” and offered her condolences to her family and friends, describing her as “a journalist who died doing her job with great courage”.
Police and intelligence services believe that dissident republican groups are behind the riots that saw cars lit on fire and fire bombs used, and blame the so-called New IRA for the murder of McKee.
The Irish border has been the main point of contention of the Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels and May’s deal has been rejected thrice due to the backstop mechanism that would prevent customs checks. Both sides agree that there should be no hard border on the island of Ireland but it is yet to be seen whether a new deal can be struck that would prevent this from happening.
Since the U.K. voted to leave the EU in 2016, tension within Northern Ireland, who voted to remain, have steadily begun to rise as the prospects of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland threaten to unravel the fragile 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The agreement ended decades of sectarian conflict between the republican Catholics, who want a united Ireland, and the unionist Protestants who wish to remain in the U.K.