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Police reveal that the gun found in Derry at the weekend was the weapon used to kill Lyra McKee last year

Forensics carried out on gun found in Ballymagroarty

PSNI arrest two men in connection with Lyra McKee

The late Lyra McKee. Picture: Brendan Gallagher

Police have confirmed that a gun found in Derry last weekend was the weapon used to kill Lyra McKee.

The  PSNI revealed the development after initial tests and an examination of the weapon, a Hammerli X-Esse pistol, which was found in a field behind Ballymagroarty.

Ms McKee, 29, was shot during trouble in the city's Creggan area in 2019.

The PSNI said Thursday's announcement was 'a significant moment for the investigation' into the New IRA murder.

They said the full forensic examination of the weapon will take some time to conclude.

The gun, along with a bomb, was found during planned police searches last weekend.

Search operations took place over two days and covered 38 acres.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, from Serious Crime Branch, said: “Examinations of the gun recovered in Ballymagroarty last weekend have now confirmed that this is the gun that killed Lyra McKee.

"Since 18 April last year, we have been collectively focused on seeking to bring to justice those who were involved in Lyra’s murder.

“That collective effort has never been simply directed towards the person who pulled the trigger.

"I am as clear today as I have ever been that the bringing of that gun onto the streets involved a number of senior figures in the New IRA.

"Today’s confirmation is a significant step forward and opens up a new avenue of investigation for my team.

"We will be relentless in pursuing opportunities to bring to justice every person who was involved in the chain of events that led to the gunman indiscriminately firing four shots.

“Those shots were fired intentionally towards police Land Rovers, placing many officers at significant risk of death or serious injury.

"The presence of bystanders like Lyra, who were watching the unfolding events, was an inconvenience to the terrorists but the gunman clearly placed no importance on that.

"Any reasonable assessment must be that for the New IRA, the community were, and continue to be, expendable collateral damage.

“Lyra’s murder was not an accident – it was an inevitable and entirely predictable result of terrorist violence.

“The police investigation also extends to the disappearance of the weapon after it was fired.

"Somebody was able to transport this gun and its ammunition from Creggan to Ballymagroarty and hide them in a field, within 250 yards of local housing.

"This placed other members of the public at further considerable risk. The disregard shown by the New IRA is staggering but completely unsurprising. They continue to put their own agenda above the rights of local communities to live in peace.”

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