CO. LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland - Police fear a violent Easter weekend in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, following a major riot in the city on Thursday night which saw 50 petrol bombs thrown at police.
Two cars were also hijacked in the area and set on fire, while a journalist was shot dead.
Residents of Derry/Londonderry were shocked to hear of the events of the previous night when they awoke on Good Friday morning.
Police believe dissident republicans have a number of attacks planned over the weekend, and have been carrying out search raids to unearth guns and explosives to be used in the attacks.
"Protecting the public is and will always be our priority. The searches were being carried out because we believed that firearms and explosives were being stored in the area," Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing Mark Hamilton said Friday.
"We believe that dissident republicans have a number of attacks planned and we assess it is likely that these would have been used over the Easter period. As we began those searches just after 9pm a crowd gathered and before long upwards of 50 petrol bombs were thrown at officers. Two vehicles were also hijacked and set on fire."
"Coming up to 11:00pm we estimate there were about 100 people in the area including young people and members of the media. It was around this time that the gunman fired a number of shots," Hamilton said.
"Lyra McKee was murdered during the orchestrated violence."
"A single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms McKee. Officers quickly administered first aid before transporting her in the back of a landrover to hospital. Tragically she died from her injuries. At this stage we believe her murder was carried out by a violent dissident republican. Our thoughts are very much with the family and friends of Ms McKee, who was a journalist based in Belfast," the assistant chief constable said.
"This murder demonstrates all too starkly that when terrorists bring violence and guns into the community, members of the public are placed in severe danger. It is abundantly clear that they do not care who they harm."
"I am appealing for anyone who was in the area and could assist in either identifying the gunman or has information about where he went afterwards to contact detectives in the incident room on 101 and ask for extension 57074. You can also pass on whatever information you have to the Crimestoppers charity on freephone 0800 555 111, Assistant Constable Hamilton said.
"We are aware that footage from last night is circulating on social media. This is clearly distressing for the family of Ms McKee and the wider community. You can best assist the murder investigation by uploading any footage you have to the Major Incident Public Portal.
"The shock over what happened here in this city last night is hanging heavy over the entire community today. As we move into the Easter weekend I would appeal for calm and ask everyone with influence in the community to work together to ensure there are no further acts of violence," Hamilton added.