| 20.11,18. 09:27 AM |
Melbourne terror attack plot suspects arrested in police raids
Three men arrested on suspicion of plotting a terror attack in Melbourne had tried to source a semi-automatic rifle to kill as many people as possible in a crowded space, police have alleged.
The men, who are aged between 21 and 30, are from the city's northern suburbs, and Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said police had been monitoring the men since March.
He said the men were arrested in counterterrorism raids this morning after police believed their intentions of carrying out a mass killing "escalated" this week.
Mr Ashton said the men had not decided on a specific location for the attack.
"There was a view towards a crowded place where maximum people would be attending to be able to kill, we allege, a maximum amount of people as possible," he said.
The raids were conducted by officers from Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and ASIO.
Mr Ashton declined to name the men, but said all three were Australian nationals whose passports were cancelled this year.
A 30-year-old man from Dallas, a 26-year-old man from Campbellfield and a 21-year-old man from Greenvale are being interviewed by police, who expect to lay charges today, Mr Ashton said.
"It will be alleged the three men arrested were involved in undertaking preparations for planning a terrorist act in Melbourne," Victoria Police said.
"Victoria Police would like to reassure the community that the threat has been contained and there is no ongoing threat."
Officers executed four warrants during the raids, which involved the search of a fourth property at Coolaroo, the statement said.
Police are urging the public to go about their normal business and report any suspicious activity to triple zero, or the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400.
The raids come as thousands of people are expected to attend a state funeral for restaurateur Sisto Malaspina, who was stabbed by an Islamic State-inspired attacker in Melbourne's Bourke Street on November 9.
Earlier this month, three men were found guilty of plotting to carry out a terror attack in Melbourne's CBD during the 2016 Christmas period.
More to come.