Australian police: Major terror attack foiled

Arrests during a dawn raid of homes in Sydney and Melbourne have averted a "large scale" terrorist attack, police said Tuesday.

The suspects had reportedly carried out surveillance of targets such as the world-famous icons Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and rail stations and the stock exchange in Melbourne.

The 15 arrests came four days after an amendment to the terror laws was rushed through in a special session of parliament to deal with a "specific threat" to national security. The new law made it easier to detain suspects believed to be in early stages of planning attacks.

The change came at the insistence of intelligence agencies, who feared a group of locally born Moslem extremists were planning a terrorist attack, reports Bangkok Post.

According to Australian, some 400 officers, combining Australian Federal Police agents and the state police forces in NSW and Victoria, were involved.

Mr Moroney said some 15 homes were targeted and the six Sydney suspects would appear in court today. The terrorist supects had been planning their attack for 18 months, Mr Moroney said. The swoop follows changes to the law that were rushed through Parliament last week by the Federal Government.

Prime Minister John Howard said the changes were needed to help police avert a &to=' target=_blank>terrorist attack.

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