The late Lyra McKee. Picture: Brendan Gallagher
Police are investigating whether a gun found in Derry was the weapon used to kill Lyra McKee.
The young journalist was shot dead by the New IRA during a riot in Creggan in April last year.
During a weekend operation in the Ballymagroarty area of Derry, police found a gun, a 'fully-primed' bomb and ammunition.
Speaking at a press conference today in relation to the find, Derry City and Strabane District Commander Chief Superintendent Emma Bond linked the weapons to the New IRA.
She said the gun found was similar to the one used to kill Lyra McKee.
Chief Superintendent Bond said forensic tests were now being carried out on the gun to establish if it was the weapon used in last year's attack.
However, she stressed that the investigation was at an early stage.
"Whilst we regard this as an encouraging line of enquiry, I will repeat that we cannot definitively say at this time whether or not this is the murder weapon. That determination will be guided by the forensics," she said.
The local police commander (pictured above) said they believed the bomb found was to be used in an imminent attack.
The weapons were found during a search of a large area of land close to Ballymagroarty.
Chief Superintendent Bond said the operation was launched following reports of suspicious activity in the area.
“This operation was designed specifically to find items we believed were being stored by violent dissident republicans in the Ballymagroarty area and which posed a serious and imminent risk to the community," she said.
"We were able to locate and safely remove a command-wire initiated bomb, a handgun and a quantity of ammunition.
"A strong line of enquiry is that these munitions belong to the New IRA.
"They have now been seized and will be subject to rigorous forensic examination in the coming days and weeks."
She hit out at those who had left the weapons in the area.
"The fact that these items were left close to a populated area, and particularly on land where children are known to play, yet again underlines the total lack of regard these violent terrorist criminals have for their own communities.
"These people are so singularly focused on murdering police officers that they do not care if others - men, women, children, families - are caught up in their evil plots. The community is simply collateral damage.
"Violent dissident Republicans are immersed in a constant campaign to kill police.
"This is the reality we live with every day, and yet everyday police officers come into work, they go out into communities like Ballymagroarty and they work to build relationships and tackle the issues that matter to local people.
"Support and information from the local community is vital to fighting the scourge of terrorism. Anything you know, or anything you have seen - share that information with us and help us put these criminals out of business.
"You can call us on 101, 999 in an emergency or information can be given to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
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