Police investigating an image of a person dressed as a Hamas “fighter” during a Halloween event in Northern Ireland say they have received several reports.
The development came after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) suspected the image may have been fake.
However, later on Thursday evening, Chief Superintendent Nigel Goddard said a number of reports had been received and there were further images on social media.
Police investigations into the matter are continuing after an image appeared to show a person wearing a camouflage uniform in Guildhall Square, Derry, circulating on social media.
Earlier on Thursday, PSNI interim police chief Jon Boutcher said he knew there was evidence the incident could have been generated by artificial intelligence.
“None of our police officers have seen anyone in this outfit. “Nobody made a complaint to the staff running the event or to security and the event lasted three or four days,” he told a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
“There is no trace of this at all and it has been suggested to me – and this will be interesting in this case – that it may even have been some kind of image of an artificial intelligence that was presented and disseminated.”
“I don’t know at the moment, I can’t give you an answer, but that was the suggestion last night.
“Officers were keenly aware of the irresponsibility and potential criminality of such clothing.
“At this time we can’t find any witnesses or anyone to say that anyone was walking around dressed like that during the Halloween events, so the jury hasn’t been told yet.”
Derry City and Strabane District Commander Nigel Goddard said they had carried out “a number of inquiries” into the image, including a public appeal and a review of CCTV in the city centre.
Mr Goddard said in the statement released at 12.39pm on Thursday that there had been no reports of anyone seeing the person dressed in this manner in Guildhall Square, nor of any other images online.
In a PSNI update sent just before 8pm, Mr Goddard said they had “received a number of reports of a person in uniform in Derry/Londonderry city center during the Halloween festival”.
“We are also aware of other images circulating on social media,” he said, adding that the investigation was still ongoing.
Mr Boutcher said there were still “ongoing protests and parades relating to the Middle East conflict” but he said Northern Ireland had “not seen the problems relating to extremism that were occurring elsewhere in the UK”.
“I have made personal contact with both the Jewish and Muslim communities regarding these protests,” he said.
“We have a highly experienced commander in charge of this activity and a well-developed plan to deal with this protest, which has worked brilliantly so far with the commitment of our officers and staff.” – PA