Australia ramps up parliament security after Canada attack

Police outside a house that was involved in pre-dawn raids in western Sydney on Sept 18, 2014. Australia has stepped up security around Parliament House after a gunman attempted to storm Canada's legislature. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Police outside a house that was involved in pre-dawn raids in western Sydney on Sept 18, 2014. Australia has stepped up security around Parliament House after a gunman attempted to storm Canada's legislature. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CANBERRA (AFP) - Australia stepped up security around Parliament House on Thursday and Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed solidarity with Ottawa after a gunman attempted to storm Canada's legislature.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the government would boost security measures around Canberra's parliament buildings on top of a recent tightening of measures imposed after Australia last month raised its terror alert level from "medium" to "high".

"There will be an enhanced Australian Federal Police presence around the building," Keenan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We will obviously continue to monitor the situation to make sure the deployment around the building is appropriate for what we assess to be the risk."

He stressed there were no specific threats "that we're aware of that would give us cause for concern".

The increased security measures include extra police around the Canadian High Commission, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Abbott said he was confident of responding to any attacks on parliament, with security arrangements at government buildings and military bases constantly under review.

"Security was upgraded at this parliament about six weeks ago in response to credible intelligence of a possible threat to this parliament," the Australian leader said.

"I do want to assure the Australian people that this government will do everything we humanly can to keep our country and its people safe."

The prime minister also expressed solidarity with Canadians, adding: "Australians woke this morning to further confirmation that the threat to free countries and free institutions is very real indeed."

Australia raised its terror alert over growing concern about militants returning from conflicts in the Middle East, and also conducted counter-terrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane.

Several men were charged with recruiting, funding and sending Islamist fighters to Syria following the raids, with one man also charged with preparing a terrorist attack on home soil.

In a separate incident, a "known terror suspect" - 18-year-old Abdul Numan Haider - was shot dead by police after stabbing two officers outside their station on the outskirts of Melbourne in late September.