Police in Northern Ireland have launched a terrorism investigation after a 29-year-old woman was shot dead during rioting in the city of Londonderry.
- Petrol bombs were reportedly thrown in the area before the woman was killed
- A police spokesman said the death was being treated as a “terrorist incident”
- The unrest came ahead of the Easter weekend which is the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising
Officers appealed for calm after a number of shots were fired in the Irish nationalist Creggan area of the city.
Police say they were attacked by petrol bombs and other missiles.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said officers were treating the violence as a terrorist incident and said a murder inquiry had been launched.
Journalist Leona O’Neill said she was standing with the woman next to a police Land Rover, and saw her fall to the ground after being hit.
She said officers rushed the victim to hospital, where she died.
@LeonaONeill1: I was standing beside this young woman when she fell beside a police Land Rover tonight in Creggan
O’Neill had earlier posted videos of police vehicles being pelted with what she said were dozens of petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and fireworks.
The videos showed two vehicles were left in the middle of the street and set on fire.
@LeonaONeill1: Second vehicle hijacked and burned here in Fanad Drive in Creggan. Rioting is continuing
The rioting was in response to a house search that a large number of officers conducted in the area, O’Neill said.
The leaders of Northern Ireland’s two largest political parties condemned the killing.
The deputy leader of the republican Sinn Fein party, Michelle O’Neill, said her “heart goes out to the family of the young woman shot dead by so-called dissidents”.
@moneillsf: My heart goes out to the family of the young woman shot dead by so-called dissidents.
In a statement on the Sinn Fein website, Ms O’Neill described the shooting as “a senseless loss of life”.
“I unreservedly condemn those responsible for killing this young woman,” she said.
“We will remain resolute in our opposition to the pointless actions of these people who care nothing for the people of Derry.
“We remain united in our determination to building a better and peaceful future for all.
“Those responsible should listen to the people, they should disband immediately and end their pointless actions against the community which tonight has tragically claimed the life of a young woman.”
Mark H Durkan, Social Democratic and Labour Party Member of the Legislative Assembly for Foyle, said he was “heartbroken and angry” by the killing.
@MarkHDurkan: Just leaving Creggan, heartbroken and angry at the senseless loss of a young life
Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said the shooting was “heartbreaking news”.
@DUPleader: Heartbreaking news. A senseless act. A family has been torn apart. Those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80s & 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019.
The riots broke out ahead of the Easter weekend, a time when republicans mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
The detonation of a large car bomb outside a courthouse in Londonderry in January highlighted the threat still posed by militant groups opposed to a 1998 peace deal that largely ended three decades of violence in the British-run province.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to the city earlier on Thursday, as part of a trip to show support for the peace agreement politicians in Washington helped to broker.