LONDON — The police in Northern Ireland said on Saturday that they had arrested two men under the terrorism act in connection with the killing of Lyra McKee, a journalist who was covering a night of violent unrest in Londonderry.
The men, ages 18 and 19, were taken to a police station in Belfast, the capital, which handles serious investigations, to be questioned in the killing of Ms. McKee on Thursday in the Creggan area of Londonderry, the Derry City and Strabane District Police said in a statement on Twitter. Londonderry is known to many of its residents, especially those who are Roman Catholic, as Derry.
The police said on Friday that they were attributing the killing on Thursday night to the New Irish Republican Army, a militant splinter group.
The violence that night came on the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, the 1998 accord that largely brought an end to decades of conflict in the region between republicans or nationalists, largely Catholic, who believe Northern Ireland should be part of a united Ireland, and unionists, largely Protestant, who want it to remain British.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ms. McKee, 29, was the first journalist to be killed in Northern Ireland since 2001, when loyalists — unionist extremists — shot dead Martin O’Hagan, a reporter investigating paramilitaries and drug gangs for a Dublin-based newspaper.
In the search for information about Ms. McKee’s killing, the police released CCTV footage showing her standing in the crowd in Creggan, a heavily Catholic area of Londonderry, on the night she was killed. The video also shows a masked figure leaning in from behind a street corner.
At a vigil in the city on Friday, Ms. McKee’s partner, Sara Canning, spoke of her as “the woman I was planning to grow old with” and said her dreams had been “snuffed out by a single barbaric act.”
“We are all poorer for the loss of Lyra,” she said.
The vigil, parts of which were broadcast on the BBC, brought together the leaders of the two main rival parties of Northern Ireland, Mary Lou McDonald of the leading republican party, Sinn Fein, and Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party, who were pictured standing side by side, with Ms. Canning holding a rainbow flag in the background.
Ms. Foster said it was her first visit to Creggan, which is a republican heartland. “I came to stand in solidarity with all of the people who are here today,” she told mourners, gesturing with both hands toward the crowd. Applause followed.
“And I want to say, your pain is my pain; it doesn’t matter whether you are Catholic or Protestant, whether you identify as Irish or British,” she said.
Facing widespread public anger, a group considered to be speaking for the New Irish Republican Army announced that it would cancel a parade it had planned to hold in Creggan on Monday to commemorate the anniversary of the Easter Rising, a 1916 rebellion in Dublin against British rule in Ireland.
Commemorations of the Easter Rising are annual rites in Irish republican culture, and it was a police search for arms and explosives that they believed would be used in an attack to mark the occasion that sparked the riot in which Ms. McKee died.
The group, Saoradh (Irish for “Liberation”), said in a statement on its website on Friday that a “republican volunteer” had been defending the area against what it termed an attack by armed “crown forces” when Ms. McKee was “killed accidentally while standing behind armed crown force personnel and armoured vehicles.”
It later added a line to the statement saying, “The Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee have opted to cancel this Easter Monday’s annual commemoration as a mark of respect for the tragic and accidental killing of Lyra McKee.”
Colleagues remembered Ms. McKee as an accomplished investigative journalist; in 2016, she was named on a Forbes list of remarkable news media professionals under 30.
She crowdsourced funds for the research of her first book, “Angels With Blue Faces,” an investigation into the killing of a unionist lawmaker by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1981. The book was published last year.
Recently, she was working on “The Lost Boys,” about the disappearances of children and young men during the Troubles, as the years of conflict in Northern Ireland are known.
An online fund-raiser to help her family with funeral expenses collected about 47,000 pounds — more than $60,000 — in its first day.
Orignially published in NYT.