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Edgy Aussie alert for holiday season terror attacks

December 19, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Melbourne has prepared for New Year’s Eve celebrations by setting up a network of loudspeakers designed to warn people of emergencies such as terrorist attacks, while in NSW the public has been told to get used to the sight of Sydney police carrying military-style assault rifles on New Year’s Eve.

In most places in Australia, the holiday season will be pretty laid back, as usual. Seeing the preparations in big state capitals, some people might wonder whatever happened to the Season of Goodwill, but the authorities have to be wary.

Counter-terrorism experts from Australia and overseas converged on Melbourne recently for a forum on preventing terrorism, “as authorities warn peak terror season is upon us,” as Melbourne’s Age newspaper put it last week.

In Sydney, New South Wales riot squad police have been issued with what the Guardian called “military-style machine guns” in time for New Year’s Eve.

“I don’t want the public to feel confronted, but I want them not only to be safe, but to also feel safe,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters in Sydney yesterday.

The Guardian posted a video on YouTube showing senior police explaining the decision.

The chosen weapon is the high-powered M4 carbine, a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle. The M4 carbine is used extensively by the US Armed Forces as the primary infantry weapon.

A timely reminder that some people see the Christmas and New Year festive season as a suitable time for carnage arrived yesterday with the news that Russia has thwarted a terrorist atrocity – after a tipoff from the US.

NSW Police carrying M4 carbines near the Sydney Opera House

Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned US President Donald Trump on Sunday to thank him for a CIA tip that helped prevent a series of bombings in the canal city of St Petersburg – Russia’s second-biggest city and a major cruise port. Famed for its grand art galleries, St Petersburg is highly popular with tourists, including thousands from Australia.

The CIA, the prime US intelligence service, gave Russia vital information about a terrorist plot focusing on the city. Russia’s top domestic security agency followed up and quickly pounced on a group of suspects who were planning to bomb Kazan Cathedral and other popular sites for visitors, the Kremlin said.

Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, said seven suspected followers of the Islamist terror group ISIS had been arrested for allegedly planning to carry out attacks in St Petersburg at the weekend, including a suicide bombing in a church.

Written by Peter Needham

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