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A police officer lays flowers passed to her by members of the public at the scene where journalist Lyra McKee was fatally shot amid rioting overnight in the Creggan area of Londonderry in Northern Ireland on April 19, 2019. (AFP/Paul Faith)

Journalist Lyra McKee shot dead during riot in Northern Ireland

April 19, 2019 9:47 AM ET

New York, April 19, 2019 - Freelance journalist Lyra McKee was fatally injured late last night during riots and a police operation in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, according to multiple news reports.

McKee, 29, was hit with a bullet when a gunman opened fire on police in the Creggan area of the city, and died in the hospital, according to the reports. In a statement, Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin of the Northern Ireland police said they launched a probe into the killing.

The circumstances of her killing were not immediately clear. The UK's National Union of Journalists said in a statement that McKee was covering the riots when she was killed, while the Northern Ireland police said she was not, according to Reuters.

"We call on the authorities in Northern Ireland to act swiftly to identify those responsible for the killing of Lyra McKee and bring them to justice," said CPJ's Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. "Every day, all around the world, journalists put their lives at risk when they bear witness to unrest and conflict."

According to media reports, the violence broke out in a restive area of Londonderry after police raided houses in order to seize weapons and ammunition that they believed would be used by militants opposed to British rule in the coming days, as the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising approached.

The last killing of a journalist in Northern Ireland was in 2001, when prominent investigative journalist Martin O'Hagan was shot dead as he was leaving a pub in the town of Lurgan.

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