Australia police launch massive 'counter-terrorism' raids

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 17, 2014 5:46 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hundreds of heavily armed Australian police raided homes in Sydney and Brisbane before dawn on Thursday, launching a large-scale "counter-terrorism operation" just days after the country raised its threat level to high for the first time.

Australian police said the raids were focused on suburbs in Sydney's northwest, while local media reported raids were also taking place in the Queensland city of Brisbane.

Last week, Australia raised its terror threat level to 'high', citing the likelihood of terrorist attacks by Australian citizens radicalized in Iraq or Syria, despite stressing there was no knowledge of a specific threat.

Australia, which is due to host the Group of 20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane in mid-November, is concerned over the number of its citizens believed to be fighting overseas with Islamist militant groups.

Up to 160 Australians have either been involved in the fighting or actively supporting it, officials say, and at least 20 have returned to Australia after fighting in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Lincoln Feast, editing by G Crosse)