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Ireland police release 2 without charges in journalist's death

By
Darryl Coote
Journalist Lyra McKee, 29, was a shot dead during rioting in Londonderry. Photo courtesy of Police Service of Northern Ireland
Journalist Lyra McKee, 29, was a shot dead during rioting in Londonderry. Photo courtesy of Police Service of Northern Ireland

April 22 (UPI) -- Two men arrested in connection to the death of a journalist who was killed during rioting in North Ireland have been released without charges, police said.

The two men, ages 18 and 19, were arrested April 18 under the Terrorism Act by investigators and were released Sunday without being charged, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

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Lyra McKee, 29, was killed April 18 during rioting that broke out in the city of Londonderry following police conducting searches on homes to republican dissidents who were believed to have been storing firearms and explosives that "would have been used over the Easter period," Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said in a statement on April 19.

"As we began those searches just after 9 p.m., a crowd gathered and before long upwards of 50 petrol bombs were thrown at officers," Hamilton said.

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McKee was killed by shots fired "indiscriminately" from a single gunman, Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said in an April 20 statement.

Police also said in the announcement of the men's release Sunday that they were calling on the public for help in identifying the shooter who killed McKee.

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"We have received very positive support from the community but we need to convert this support into tangible evidence that will enable us to bring Lyra's killers to justice," he said, adding, "I am continuing to appeal for those people who were in Fanad Drive and Central Drive on Thursday night and who have mobile footage to please come and speak with detectives."

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McKee's death came days before the Easter weekend, during which Republicans mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising when they fought against British rule. Traditionally, it is a time when government critics act up, the Guardian reported.

Northern Ireland had seen decades of violence between separatist Republicans and British-supporting Loyalists, which was brought to an end with the 1998 pact known as the Good Friday Agreement.

Detective Superintendent Murphy said he believes those behind McKee's death are members of the new Irish Republican Army, known by its initials as the IRA.

"Lyra's murder was not just an attack on Lyra -- It was an attack on the fabric of the community," he said. "Lyra's killers have succeeded only in uniting the entire community in condemnation."

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