Australian police arrest two more men over alleged attack plot

Australian police had arrested two more men in Sydney as part of an operation that thwarted a potential attack by home-grown Islamist militants.
Australian police had arrested two more men in Sydney as part of an operation that thwarted a potential attack by home-grown Islamist militants.PHOTO: EPA

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australian police said on Wednesday (Dec 23) they had arrested two more men in Sydney as part of an operation that thwarted a potential attack by home-grown Islamist militants last year on government buildings.

The arrests of the men, aged 24 and 20, brings to 13 the number of people arrested in the ongoing operation, New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters.

Earlier this month, police charged five people including a 15-year-old boy over the same alleged plot to attack potential targets including the headquarters of the Australian Federal Police in Sydney and a navy base in the same city.

"There is no specific threat, there is no current threat, there is no pending threat, and at this time of the year when we are moving into Christmas and New Year, please make sure that you go about your business," Burn said on Wednesday (Dec 23).

One of the two men arrested will be charged with making a document likely to facilitate a terrorist attack, while the second will be charged with conspiracy to do an act in preparation to commit a terrorist act.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its battle against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since last year.

Authorities say they have thwarted a number of potential attacks, while there have been several incidents where "lone wolf" type assaults have taken place.

In September 2014, police shot dead a Melbourne teenager after he stabbed two counter-terrorism officers. Last December, two hostages were killed when police stormed a central Sydney cafe to end a 17-hour siege by a lone gunman, who was also killed.

In October, a 15-year-old boy opened fire on a police accountant at police headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta and was then killed in a gunfight with police outside the building.