Australian police said on Friday they had foiled a plot to attack prominent sites in the city of Melbourne with a series of bombs on Christmas Day that authorities described as “an imminent terrorist event” inspired by Islamic State. Six men and a woman, all in their twenties, were arrested in dawn raids across Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, Victoria state police said in a statement.
“This is a significant disruption of what we would describe as an imminent terrorist event in Melbourne,” Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin told reporters in Sydney. “We do believe … that we have removed this threat in its entirety,” Colvin said.
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Two of those arrested were released without charge but at least four of those still in custody would likely face court on Friday, the police statement said.
Victorian police chief Graham Ashton said the plot was inspired by the Islamic State militant group. The plot targeted high-profile locations in Melbourne, including Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral “possibly on Christmas Day”.
Several teenagers have been arrested in Australia in recent years and charged with terror-related offences, including five young men who police alleged were planning an attack at last year’s centenary ANZAC Day commemorations.