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Police raids in Melbourne over suspected Christmas terror attack

Seven people arrested in Melbourne's northern suburbs over a suspected terror plot on iconic CBD sites

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Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton (left) and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews address a press conference in Melbourne, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. Photo: AAP Image/Alex Murray.

23 December 2016

Terror raids across Melbourne have seen seven people arrested and five placed in custody, over a suspected "explosive event" planned for Christmas Day in Melbourne's CBD.

Close to 400 police officers commenced the raids of five properties on Thursday night, which continued early Friday morning across five of the city's northern suburbs including Flemington, Meadow Heights, Dallas, Campbellfield and Gladstone Park.

"In relation to that threat, we believe that there was an intention to conduct what we call a multi-mode attack, possibly on Christmas Day, the possible locations that we have been working on have been Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, and St Paul's Cathedral," Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said.

According to Ashton, officers successfully recovered "the makings of an improvised explosive device" and the plan is believed to have possibly included other weapons such as knives and firearms.

"As a result of the investigation, we believe we have neutralised that threat," he said.

"We are anticipating that as a result of that questioning we will present a number of persons before the courts in the early afternoon, seeking to charge them with acts in preparation of a terrorist event."

ASIO and AFP officers, along with Victoria Police had been monitoring a number of suspects across Melbourne for some time.

The five men who are currently in custody and aged in their 20s are being questioned by police.

Speaking at the police press conference on Friday morning, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews called the plot "an act of evil".

"What the police will allege, was not an act of faith, not an act of religious observance, it was, instead, in its planning, an act of evil, a criminal act," Mr Andrews said.

Given the time of year with citizens planning to attend a number of events surrounding Christmas and the New Year, including the Boxing Day cricket match, the premier reassured that Victoria is a safe state.

"All Victorians should know and understand there will be an increased police presence at large gatherings, right across the city and state, over this weekend," Mr Andrews said.

"There already would have been significant additional Victoria Police resources deployed because of the nature of some of those gatherings, but ... there will be additional members of Victoria Police providing additional support to the community."

He also took the opportunity to remind the community of the strength of its cultural diversity during this time.

"My message to all Victorians is we should cherish the diversity that makes us a stronger community. We should cherish the diversity that makes us the envy of so many other parts of the world," he said.

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Comments

What is going to happen is that a number of people will fall over and break their necks looking out for terrorists. The number of people the courts will try and jail will be only those that have a mental problem because there is nowhere to hold people with mental illness. If Mr Andrews cherishes our diversity he should make sure every citizen is treated equally before the law. When people have to remind Government departments they are citizens and their rights should be respected, even though their grandparents were born outside Britain & Australia. What is happening with the Indians and Chinese is going to require billions of dollars in compensation in a few decades time. While we do not see the disgraceful treatment the Indigenous peoples in Australia have suffered and continue to suffer; at times the powerful group think that many of us are just above being "Abos". You would believe the politicians "sorry" meetings and concern about Aborigines when the whole World knows they just treading water waiting for the people they should be before the courts to die and disappear. Cleansing Victoria and Australia of evidence has been very thorough.

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