Australian police have charged one teenager for planning a terrorist attack at an event to mark the centenary of the landings at Gallipoli during World War I.

The police had arrested five teenagers in an overnight raid early on Saturday, but only one has been formally charged and three have since been released. Another remains in police custody.

Sevdet Besim, 18, from Melbourne's southeast, was refused bail and is expected to appear in court on Friday, April 24, Australian media reported.

More than 200 police were involved in a series of raids in the country's second-largest city of Melbourne in the early hours of Saturday, following a month-long operation.

The run-up to this year's Anzac Day centenary on April 25 - a major holiday in Australia and New Zealand - has been marked by numerous commemorations, sparking concerns that extremists could target the event for a high-profile attack.

It is alleged Besim was preparing a "terrorist act in Australia, which included targeting police officers," a police statement said.

Senior police officials said they found "edged weapons" including a sword and knife during the raids, but were confident the threat had been contained.

The country raised its national terror threat level to high last September and has since carried out a series of counterterrorism raids, with alarm fuelled by the departure of at least 110 of its nationals to Iraq and Syria to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Australians have been recruited to both sides of the conflict, and some have been killed, despite a government ban on Australians fighting on either side.

A string of incidents, including a December siege in a Sydney cafe by a self-styled cleric who attempted to link his actions to ISIL, have raised fears over radicalisation among Muslims in Australia.

In February, two men were charged after police thwarted an "imminent" attack in Sydney, seizing an ISIL flag, a machete, and an Arabic-language video detailing the alleged plot.

 

Source: Agencies