Australian counter-terrorism raids continue

2015-01-09 20:57
Man Haron Monis, the gunman in the Lindt Cafe incident in Martin Place. (Dean Lewins, AP)

Man Haron Monis, the gunman in the Lindt Cafe incident in Martin Place. (Dean Lewins, AP)

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Sydney - Australian police conducted fresh counter-terrorism raids in Sydney on Friday, officials said, as part of an ongoing investigation into citizens providing support to foreign fighters overseas.

A 33-year-old man was arrested and charged with acquiring and possessing ammunition illegally in the raids, which were carried out at four properties in southwest Sydney, New South Wales police said.

He was refused bail and ordered to appear in a Sydney court on Saturday.

The warrants were "part of a long-running investigation and not as a result of any specific terrorism threat," police added in a statement.

The raids were unconnected to the 16-hour stand-off at a Sydney cafe in mid-December that left the lone gunman, self-styled Islamic cleric Man Haron Monis, and two hostages dead, an Australian Federal Police spokesperson told AFP.

The investigation, which has been running for more than a year, is looking into alleged financial and other support for foreign fighters involved in conflicts such as those in Syria and Iraq.

"The priority for all agencies involved in these operations is to ensure the safety of the community," the Australian Federal Police's interim Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier said.

Australia raised its terror threat level in September on growing concern about militants returning from fighting in Iraq and Syria.

70 fighters

There were also large-scale counter-terrorism raids across the country in September.

Eleven people have been charged with various offences related to the alleged planning of an attack on domestic soil and helping citizens travel to the Middle East as foreign fighters.

The government has said that more than 70 Australians are currently fighting for Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, with at least 20 believed to have died.

There are growing concerns that increasing numbers of youths are being radicalised and could mount attacks at home.

Last year, Canberra passed a law criminalising travel to terror hotspots without good reason. Those charged could face up to 10 years in jail.

Read more on:    australia

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