MELBOURNE • Four men have been charged after Australian police said they foiled a plot to attack prominent sites in Melbourne with bombs and guns on Christmas Day.
The plot, which the authorities described as "an imminent terrorist event" inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, targeted high-profile locations Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St Paul's Cathedral, Acting Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said yesterday.
Abdullah Chaarani, 26, Hamza Abbas, 21, and Ahmed Mohamad, 24, were charged with planning a terrorist attack. The fourth man, also charged, was not identified.
They were among seven people, all Australian citizens in their 20s, arrested following overnight raids on homes in Melbourne. The security operation, codenamed Kastelholm, was conducted by about 400 police and members of the domestic spy agency.
"This is a significant disruption of what we would describe as an imminent terrorist event in Melbourne," Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said in Sydney.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the planned attack was an "Islamist terrorist plot" and "one of the most substantial terrorist plots that have been disrupted over the last several years".
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