New IRA apologises for Northern Ireland journalist's murder

The New IRA has apologised for the murder of a Northern Irish journalist who was shot dead during riots on Friday (NZ time).

Lyra McKee was killed during rioting in the Irish nationalist Creggan area of Londonderry in Northern Ireland in an attack that police said was likely the work of Irish nationalist militants.

Now the paramilitary group New IRA has admitted responsibility and offered its "full and sincere apologies" to her family and friends.

"In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces," it said in a statement to The Irish News.

"The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death."

Rioting hit the Creggan area after a raid by police trying to prevent attacks by militants opposed to the 1998 Good Friday peace deal. At least 50 petrol bombs were thrown and two cars set on fire.

CCTV footage of the shooting showed a masked attacker lean from cover and shoot towards police and other bystanders. One of the bullets struck McKee, who later died.

The New IRA has accused police of "provoking" the rioting that preceded her death, and says it will take care not to kill civilians again.

"On Thursday night, following an incursion on the Creggan by heavily armed British crown forces which provoked rioting, the IRA deployed our volunteers to engage," its statement to The Irish News read.

"We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this."

Two men, aged 18 and 19, were later arrested in relation to her murder under the Terrorism Act, but no charges were laid and have since been released from police custody, AP reports.

The men were allowed to leave custody on Sunday night (local time) as police continue to appeal for information on McKee's death.