Ardfoyle: Shots fired in Derry a 'brazen show of strength'

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Police are investigating a "brazen armed show of strength" in Londonderry at which masked men fired shots into the air on Friday evening.

Ch Supt Darrin Jones said the incident off Bishop Street in Ardfoyle, at about 21:00 BST, was "shocking" and warned people could have been hurt.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said the incident was "utterly disgraceful".

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said it happened at an event marking 40 years since the death of hunger striker Patsy O'Hara.

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) member was the fourth of 10 prisoners to die in the 1981 republican hunger strikes.

Police said 12 masked men were present at the incident.

Mr Middleton said "action must be taken" against those involved in the commemoration, adding there was no justification for the firing of shots.

"It is incumbent upon all political representatives in the city to condemn this incident," he said.

Mrs Long said there was "no excuse" for shows of strength or weapons being fired "at any time".

Foyle MP Colm Eastwood, leader of the SDLP, said the incident was "reckless and dangerous".

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Mr Jones said police were made aware of "video footage circulating on social media showing masked men firing shots into the air".

"The fact this occurred in the middle of a built-up area is even more shocking because any of the bullets fired could have ricocheted or strayed at any moment and into the nearby crowd, among which young children were present," the Derry City and Strabane area commander said.

"It is extremely worrying these masked gunmen thought it was acceptable to carry out this reckless act and it illustrates the contempt they have for people in their community.

"What occurred was utterly appalling and has no place in today's society, nor is there any justification for such scenes."

Mr Jones said officers were in the Ardfoyle area on Sunday as part of their investigation.

He asked the public to contact police if they knew who organised the event, if they have information about vehicles that were used, or how the masked men entered and left the area.

"The public can be assured we will continue to work with communities and our partners in the Paramilitary Crime Task Force to disrupt those involved in such criminal activities and reduce the harm they cause in our communities."