Terror attacks foiled in Australia and Germany
(BBC) – Australian police foiled a terror attack planned for Melbourne on Christmas Day while two men were arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning an attack on a shopping center in Oberhausen near the Dutch border.
In Australia, five men are in custody after early-morning raids on Friday, Victoria Police chief Graham Ashton said.
Mr Ashton said the threat involved “use of explosives” and other weapons including “knives or a firearm.”
The threat was to prominent city locations including Flinders St Station, Federation Square and St Paul’s Cathedral, he said.
Mr Ashton said there was no longer a threat to the public.
“We don’t have any threat over and above that threat that we’ve currently neutralized,” he said at a press conference.
Four of the suspects were Australian-born men in their 20s of a Lebanese background, while the fifth was an Australian of Egyptian origin, Mr Ashton said.
He claimed they were “self-radicalized” but inspired by propaganda of the so-called Islamic State.
Another man and a woman were arrested in the raids, but later released without charge.
Mr Ashton said the raids on five locations in Melbourne’s north and west came after weeks of police surveillance.
“We believe that there was an intention to conduct what we call a multi-mode attack, possibly on Christmas Day,” he said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said police had disrupted a substantial terror plot.
“They want to frighten Australians, they want to divide Australians, they want us to turn on each other,” he said.
“But we will not let them.”
In Germany, two men who are brothers, aged 31 and 28 and born in Kosovo, were detained early on Friday in Duisburg for planning an attack on a shopping center in Oberhausen near the Dutch border.
Police said the Oberhausen attack had been intended to target the CentrO shopping center.
Officers dressed in civilian clothing had been sent to patrol the center and a nearby Christmas market after a tip from intelligence services, police said in a statement.
It is not yet known how advanced the preparations for the attack were, or if others were involved, the statement said.
Germany is on high alert after Monday’s attack in Berlin, which left 12 dead.
A Europe-wide manhunt continues for Anis Amri, the Tunisian man suspected of driving a lorry into the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market.
There is no indication so far that Friday’s arrests are linked to the Berlin attack.
German officials have confirmed Anis Amri’s fingerprints were found inside the truck that was used to kill 12 people and wound 49 others in the capital on Monday evening.
Top: Flinders St Station is arguably Melbourne’s most iconic location. Photo: Getty Images via BBC
Inset: A makeshift memorial of candles and flowers lies at the Breitscheidplatz market in Berlin. Photo: AP via BBC