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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Australian PM Confirms Counter-Terrorism Op Foiled Plot to Bring Plane Down

A policeman stands on a street that has been blocked after Australian counter-terrorism police arrested four people in raids, Australia, July 29, 2017. © David Gray / Reuters

Four people have been arrested in late night raids by Australia's counter-terrorism task force over an alleged plot to blow up a passenger plane, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed.

Police have obtained information that “some people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist attack using an improvised devise,” Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin told reporters.

The plot is believed to be related to “Islamic-inspired terrorism,” Colvin said. He did not specify if any terrorist groups, such as Islamic State, have been linked to the foiled attack.

The federal police are “investigating information indicating the aviation industry was potentially a target of that attack,” Colvin added.

He said there was no indication that airport security was “compromised” at any time.

"Four men have been taken into custody and are assisting police with their enquiries," the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

"The public should be reassured that our security and intelligence agencies are working tirelessly to keep us safe," PM Turnbull said in a statement as cited by Reuters.


A Qantas Airways Airbus A330-300 jet takes off from Sydney International Airport over the city skyline © Jason Reed

Security at Sydney airport was stepped up Thursday in anticipation of a potential attack, with similar measures implemented at airports across the country.

Australia's terrorism threat remains at the same “probable” level as it was prior to the raids.

Turnbull advised travellers to expect delays due to increased airport security but said there was no imminent danger.

"Some of the measures will be obvious to the public, some will not be — those travelling should go about their business with confidence," Turnbull said, as cited by Reuters.

"The office of transport security has advised security screening will take longer, and travellers should arrive at terminals at least two hours before flights to allow ample time for screening.

"They should limit the amount of carry-on and checked baggage, as this will help to ensure that security screening is efficient."

Last week, Turnbull released an online video statement in which he announced major reforms of Australia’s counter terrorism agencies.