Australian police conducting ‘counter-terrorism’ raids in Melbourne
FILE PHOTO: Australian police search what is believed to be the home of gunman Yacqub Khayre in the Melbourne suburb of Roxburgh Park in Australia, June 6, 2017. (STAFF/REUTERS)
Australian police were carrying out “counter-terrorism” raids in Melbourne early on Friday, just days after a deadly siege by a lone gunman in the country’s second biggest city.
Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the raids were linked to the siege earlier this week that was claimed by the Islamic State group.
“I’ve been briefed very early this morning, a number of warrants are being executed in Melbourne as we speak,” Andrews told Sky News. “We’re obviously limited in what we can say, we don’t want to put any of our operational staff in harm’s way by speaking about these matters, but they are in connection with terrible tragic events of Monday in Brighton.”
Police shot dead gunman Yacqub Khayre, who they said had a long criminal history, on Monday night after he killed a man in an apartment block in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, and held a woman hostage for several hours.
Victoria Police confirmed they were “conducting a police operation in the northern suburbs” of Melbourne, but declined to comment further.
The Australian government has signalled a drive to reform parole laws as a result of the incident, including a ban on parole for violent offenders who have any links to extremism, as Khayre was on parole for a violent home invasion.
Andrews said parole reform will be at the top of the agenda at a meeting of state and federal governments on Friday, including having decisions made by state attorneys general rather than parole boards in cases involving extremism.
“This meeting today presents us with the opportunity not simply to talk about these matters but to recognize that terror is not half a world away,” Andrews said. “There are very real threats in communities right across our nation and there are some practical things, some common sense things that we can do and that we need to do.”
Senior officials said Khayre had been acquitted of a plot to attack a Sydney army base in 2009. He was also accused of travelling to Somalia, where he was born, to seek a religious ruling in support of the planned 2009 attack.
Australia passed laws last year allowing the indefinite detention of anyone convicted of terror-related offences if authorities believed that person posed a threat after their release.