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Australian Police Say They Foiled Christmas Bomb Attacks


A file photo shows part of Federation Square (right) and St. Paul's Cathedral (left) in Melbourne.

A file photo shows part of Federation Square (right) and St. Paul's Cathedral (left) in Melbourne.

Australian police say they have detained five suspects who were allegedly planning a series of Christmas Day bomb attacks in the heart of the country's second-largest city.

The suspects had been inspired by the Islamic State extremist group and planned attacks on Melbourne's Flinders Street train station, neighboring Federation Square, and St. Paul's Cathedral, Victoria state Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said.

Two of seven people initially arrested in raids in Melbourne -- a 26-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman -- were released without being charged, police said.

Five men between the ages of 21 and 26 remained in custody.

They were not identified, but police said four were born in Australia and the fifth was Egyptian-born with Egyptian and Australian citizenship.

Police had been watching the allegedly "self-radicalized" plotters for some time and believed they were preparing to use explosives and other weapons in attacks that could have potentially killed many people, Ashton said.

Police believe the threat has been neutralized through the raids, which involved about 400 police officers, he said.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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