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Five held as Oz police foil Christmas terror plot

By Alan Erwin

Australian police have detained five men suspected of planning a series of Christmas Day attacks using explosives, knives and a gun in the heart of the country's second-largest city.

The suspects, inspired by Islamic State, planned a string of attacks in Melbourne, according to Victoria State Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton.

Targets included a railway station, fashionable restaurant precint and an Anglican church.

Mr Ashton said the men had been plotting the attack for three weeks.

Five men aged 21 to 26 remain in custody. Three have appeared in a Melbourne court charged with preparing or planning a terrorist attack, and face a life sentence if convicted.

Hamza Abbas (21), Ahmed Mohamed (24) and Abdullah Chaarani (26) did not enter pleas or apply for bail. They will appear in court next on April 28.

Police said the other two men will also be charged with preparing a terrorist attack.

Four of the suspects were born in Australia and the fifth was Egyptian-born with Egyptian and Australian citizenship.

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