Police raid homes linked to fatal siege in Melbourne

Police officers carrying out a raid at an apartment block in Melbourne yesterday.
Police officers carrying out a raid at an apartment block in Melbourne yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Three men questioned on suspicion of providing weapons used in Monday's attack

MELBOURNE • Australian counter- terrorism police conducted raids in Melbourne yesterday and questioned three men suspected of providing weapons used in a deadly siege this week claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group.

The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation joined the police in carrying out search warrants on five addresses linked to Monday's attack in Australia's second- largest city, Victoria state Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton said.

The police shot dead gunman Yacqub Khayre, who they said had a long criminal history, on Monday night after he killed a man in an apartment block in a beachside Melbourne suburb and held a woman hostage for several hours. Three police officers were wounded in a shoot-out at the end of the siege, but the woman was unhurt.

Commissioner Patton told reporters that a 32-year-old man was arrested after yesterday's raids. However, the police later said they released the man without charge.

A second man, aged 31, and his father were being questioned by counter-terrorism police, he said.

The men were not suspected of militant activity but "they may be involved in the provision of firearms in this matter", the commissioner said.

The police said they seized computers, mobile phones and an imitation shotgun, but no firearms or live ammunition. A Reuters witness saw five uniformed and plainclothes police officers wearing gloves and breathing masks entering an apartment in a three-storey block and putting household items into evidence bags.

ENSURING SAFETY

If you have someone who has terrorist sympathies and who has a propensity to violence, every day they are not on the street is a good day.

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East, or their supporters, since 2014.

Monday's siege sparked debates about immigration and parole laws. Ms Pauline Hanson, leader of the far-right One Nation party, has said she would support a travel ban similar to those US President Donald Trump has tried to introduce, as well as the internment of people on security watch lists.

Khayre was granted parole last November after being convicted of a violent home invasion.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday that state laws would be changed to stop any prisoner who has links to terror organisations from being eligible for parole or bail.

Australia passed laws last year allowing the indefinite detention of anyone convicted of terror-related offences if the authorities believed that person posed a threat after his release.

"If you have someone who has terrorist sympathies and who has a propensity to violence, every day they are not on the street is a good day," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

Khayre was also acquitted of a plot to attack a Sydney army base in 2009.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'Police raid homes linked to fatal siege in Melbourne'. Print Edition | Subscribe