Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy suspected of plotting to detonate three home-made bombs in Melbourne, Australia.
In the latest terrorism scare involving a teenager, Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Mike Phelan said the boy was arrested at his home in the city’s upmarket suburb of Greenvale, where the explosive devices were found and made safe.
Mr Phelan would not confirm a media report saying the target of the attack was a Mother’s Day charity run in the city.
The teenager, who was not identified for legal reasons, will appear at Melbourne Children’s Court on Monday on terrorism charges.
Mr Phelan says there was no further threat from the suspect or his colleagues to the people of Melbourne.
“We’ve got to examine a lot of material that was seized at the premises, sift through a lot of intelligence, we have to get the full picture so we may not know exactly where it was going to occur nor when it was exactly going to occur, but let me tell you, something was going to happen,” Mr Phelan said.
“As a result of the Victoria police and AFP interception, some Victorians are going to be alive because of it. Had we not intervened, there was a real threat of action being taken.”
Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and the capital of Victoria state.
Last month, five teenagers were arrested on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack at a Veterans’ Day ceremony in Melbourne that included targeting police officers.
“It’s deeply troubling to police that such young people in our community are becoming disaffected in the way in which they are and considering endangering the lives of many Australians,” Mr Phelan said.
There were “no links at all” between the latest suspect and those arrested last month, he said, adding that police were investigating whether the plot had been inspired by IS.
Prime minister Tony Abbott said he had been briefed that the bomb plot had been in a “reasonably advanced state of preparation''.
He urged Australians to keep the terrorist danger in perspective and to avoid changing their way of life.
“The best thing that you can do right now is to live your life normally because the whole point of terrorism is to scare us out of being ourselves,” he said.
The teenager was driving from his home with a woman when he was stopped by police, Victoria Police deputy commissioner Bob Hill said. Police ordered three occupants of the house to come outside and news reports said they emerged with their hands up.
The boy’s father is reportedly a doctor of Syrian background and the family was unaware that bombs were stored in the two-storey home.
Mr Hill said: “His family are a caring, loving family that are now very, very distraught as a consequence of what is alleged. It has undoubtedly taken them by surprise,” Hill said.
Mr Phelan described the bombs as “very rudimentary” and said their destructive capacity had yet to be assessed.