Journalist Lyra McKee killing: ‘New breed’ of terrorists in Northern Ireland

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Journalist Lyra McKee poses for a portrait outside the Sunflower Pub on Union Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland May 19, 2017. (REUTERS)
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A still image taked from CCTV video footage released by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on April 20, 2019 shows a person highlighted in dark clothing with their face covered appearing at the edge of a wall in a scene of the violent disorder during which journalist Lyra Mckee was shot dead in the Creggan area of Derry (Londonderry) in northern Ireland on the night of April 18, 2019. (AFP)
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People gather around the floral tributes placed at the scene in the Creggan area of Derry (Londonderry) in Northern Ireland on April 20, 2019 where journalist Lyra McKee was fatally shot amid rioting on April 18. (AFP)
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A recent but undated handout picture released by Lyra McKee's family via the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on April 19, 2019 shows journalist and author Lyra McKee posing for a photograph. (AFP)
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A recent but undated handout picture released by Lyra McKee's family via the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on April 19, 2019 shows journalist and author Lyra McKee posing for a photograph. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2019
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Journalist Lyra McKee killing: ‘New breed’ of terrorists in Northern Ireland

  • The men, aged 18 and 19, were detained under anti-terrorism legislation
  • Lyra McKee was shot and killed during a riot

LONDON: Police in Northern Ireland arrested two teenagers Saturday in connection with the fatal shooting of a young journalist during rioting in the city of Londonderry and warned of a "new breed" of terrorists threatening the peace.
The men, aged 18 and 19, were detained under anti-terrorism legislation and taken to Belfast for questioning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. The men have not been identified or charged.
Authorities believe one man pulled the trigger during the chaotic rioting that began Thursday night but had organizational support.
Lyra McKee, 29, a rising star of investigative journalism, was shot and killed, police say probably by a stray bullet aimed at police, during the rioting. Police said the New IRA dissident group was most likely responsible and called it a "terrorist act."
The use of a firearm apparently aimed at police marks a dangerous escalation in sporadic violence that continues to plague Northern Ireland 21 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed. The New IRA group rejects the peace agreement.
Chief detective Jason Murphy warned Saturday that the situation on the ground has become more dangerous, even though community attitudes have changed since the peace agreement and the use of violence is viewed as abhorrent by the vast majority.
"What we are seeing is a new breed of terrorist coming through the ranks and that for me is a very worrying situation," he said.
The riot followed a pattern familiar to those who lived through the worst years of violence in Northern Ireland. Police arrived in the city's Creggan neighborhood to search for weapons and dissidents. They were barraged with gasoline bombs and other flying objects, then someone wearing a black mask appeared, fired some shots and fled.
No police were struck by the bullets, but McKee — who had been trying to film the riot on her phone — was hit. The journalist was rushed to a nearby hospital in a police car but still died.
Police on Friday night released closed-circuit TV footage showing the man suspected of firing the shots that killed McKee and appealed for help from the public in identifying him.
The killing was condemned by all the major political parties as well as the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland.
The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the killing was "a reminder of how fragile peace still is in Northern Ireland" and called for work to preserve the Good Friday peace agreement.
Some politicians believe uncertainty over Britain's impending departure from the EU and the possible re-introduction of a "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are stoking tensions in the region.
The victim was mourned by friends and the wider community. She rose to prominence in 2014 with a moving blog post — "Letter to my 14 year old self" — describing the struggle of growing up gay in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. She also had recently signed a contract to write two books.
Shortly before her death, McKee tweeted a photo of the rioting with the words: "Derry tonight. Absolute madness."
Her partner, Sara Canning, told a vigil Friday that McKee's amazing potential had been snuffed out. Canning said the senseless murder "has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with."
Catholic priest Joseph Gormley, who administered the last rites to McKee, told the BBC that the rioting was "clearly orchestrated" by a "small group of people who want to play political games with our lives."
He said he and other community leaders had tried to talk to the dissidents without success.
The New IRA is a small group that rejects the 1998 Good Friday agreement that marked the Irish Republican Army's embrace of a political solution to the long-running violence known as "The Troubles" that had claimed more than 3,700 lives.
The group is also blamed for a Londonderry car bombing in January and has been linked to several other killings in the past decade.


Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

Updated 21 July 2019
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Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

  • Twitter said the accounts harassed people linked to the Baha’i faith
  • The Baha’i faith is a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran

WASHINGTON: A day after Twitter suspended the accounts of several Iranian state media outlets, the social networking service said Saturday it acted after harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith.
Amid soaring tensions in the region, heightened by Iran’s seizure on Friday of a British-flagged tanker, some of the affected media outlets had speculated that the suspensions were related to their coverage of the seizure.
But Twitter cited what it said was the coordinated and targeted harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith, a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran.
It did not name the suspended accounts, and said it was continuing to investigate the matter.
“Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules,” read English-language messages on each of the Iranian media outlets’ accounts.
Mehr news agency, which is close to moderate conservatives in Iran, said its Farsi-language account appeared to have been blocked late Friday following its reports on the seizure of the tanker Stena Impero in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it seized the Swedish-owned tanker for breaking “international maritime rules” in the strait, a chokepoint for around a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.
Mehr’s Farsi-language Twitter page was inaccessible on Saturday, along with those of the official IRNA news agency and the agency of the Young Journalists’ Club.
“Since last night and after seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz the account of the Young Journalists’ Club and some other users have been suspended,” the YJC said on its website.
Mehr noted that its Mehr Diplomacy account, which publishes analysis and interviews on foreign policy, was also offline.
Another account taken down belonged to Ali Akbar Raefipoor, a hard-line public speaker.
None of the owners of the suspended accounts said they had been given any reason for the move by Twitter.
The micro-blogging platform is banned in Iran, but many officials still have accounts and people access them by using a virtual private network, or VPN, to bypass censorship.