An off-duty journalist was killed after shots were fired during rioting in the Northern Irish city of Londonderry overnight, an attack that shocked the province and police said was likely the work of nationalist militants.
Officers say around 50 petrol bombs were thrown in the confrontation and two cars were burned out. The assistant chief constable, Mark Hamilton, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said a murder inquiry had been launched after her death.
The last tweet McKee sent was of an image of the unrest in Derry, with the words "Derry Tonight".
"Despite the fact that we are 21 years past the Good Friday Agreement, 26 years into the terrorist ceasefires in Northern Ireland, dissident republicans, renegade republican groups still oppose the peace process and the threat level posed by them has never been deemed less than severe in Northern Ireland".
Gunshots were fired towards police and McKee was struck, they said.
Her partner, Sara Canning, told a vigil Friday that McKee's incredible potential had been snuffed out. I knew Lyra McKee very well, I was one of her media lecturers as part of the Headliners project some years ago and we have been in regular contact since then.
Lyra McKee, 29, from Belfast was an innocent bystander shot in the head by dissident republicans during disturbances in Londonderry on Thursday evening. She supported people in coming out and used her own story to empower others to live as their most authentic selves, he added.
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Ms Canning said her partner's "senseless murder" in Derry had left her family without a "beloved daughter, a sister, an aunt and a great aunt and has left so many friends without their confidant".
A local journalist at the scene of Thursday's shooting, Leona O'Neill, wrote on Twitter that after McKee was hit and fell beside a police Land Rover, officers rushed her to hospital, where she died.
Police are treating her death as a terrorist incident.
There has been an increase in tensions in Northern Ireland in recent months with sporadic violence, much of it focused in Londonderry, also known as Derry.
But the detonation of a large vehicle bomb outside a courthouse in Londonderry in January highlighted the threat still posed by pro-Ireland militants who rejected the Good Friday Agreement. She grew up in a Catholic neighborhood of Belfast, the Times reports, and wrote movingly about her experiences as a gay woman and a member of Northern Ireland's post-cease-fire generation.
He said the violence started after police entered the area to search for weapons and that the gunman was aiming at policemen when the rioting intensified.
He offered sympathy to "her partner, her family and many friends". "She was compassionate, honest, she was amusing, she had so many friends and was loved by so many people".