Australia Launches Major Anti-Terror Operation

Australian police launched a major anti-terrorism operation on Tuesday, arresting four men they said were part of a terrorist cell that was planning to launch a suicide attack on several Army bases in the country.

The Melbourne-based group was believed to be linked to an
Islamic extremist group in Somalia, al-Shabaab, and had planned to
use automatic weapons in their attack, Australian Federal Police
Acting Commissioner Tony Negus said.

"The men's intention was to actually go into the Army barracks
and to kill as many soldiers as they could before they themselves
were killed," Negus told reporters in the southern city of
Melbourne.

The men were arrested after about 400 officers from state and
national security services took part in 19 pre-dawn raids on
properties in Melbourne, Negus said. They were to appear in court
later Tuesday.

"This operation has disrupted an alleged terrorist attack that
could have claimed many lives," Negus said.

The men arrested are Australian citizens ranging in age from 22
to 26, Victoria state police said. Several others were being
questioned Tuesday.

The group had been under investigation since January, Negus
said.

The United States has designated al-Shabaab a foreign terrorist
organization. The U.S. State Department's annual terrorism report
in April said al-Shabaab was providing a safe haven to al-Qaida
"elements" wanted for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania.


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