Melbourne: Australia started deploying extra police force at major events and mosques following Friday’s Christchurch terrorist attack in which 49 people were killed. A 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant has been charged for the terror attack on two Christchurch mosques that left 49 dead on Friday.
Victoria has been put on high alert as it would be hosting the Formula 1 Grand Prix and a community open day in Mosques statewide on the weekend.
“You will see a lot more police out and about this weekend,” Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam was quoted as saying by the media.
Mosques across Victoria have planned a community open day for this Sunday and were keen for them to go ahead, Steendam said while asking people to go and support the Muslim communities, and maintaining vigilance.
Authorities across the country are also deploying extra police with the threat level raised to ‘probable’. Australian National Imams Council spokesman Bilal Rauf said that he believed a similar attack to the Christchurch massacre “absolutely” could happen in Australia.
“This was a coordinated act of terror targeted at Muslims and it could easily happen again,” he was quoted as saying by the ‘Herald Sun’.
“I am concerned it can be repeated in Australia,” he said.
Senior police officers led by counter-terrorism chief Mick Willing met on Friday to assess the threat in Australia and how best to assist their counterparts in New Zealand.
According to the National Terrorism Threat Advisory System, this would mean authorities have received “credible intelligence that indicates that individuals or groups continue to possess the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia”.
New South Wales Police also issued a statement assuring Australia’s Muslim community that there were no specific threats domestically.
“However, police have increased patrols and senior officers have also reached out to community and religious leaders across the state to provide support and reassurance,” a spokesman of the NSW Police said.
“NSW Police force will continue to do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of all members of the community and everyone should continue to go about their business without fear,” he said.
On Friday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the man was an Australian-born citizen while describing him as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”. The shooter Tarrant spent time in NSW city of Grafton, according to NSW Commissioner Michael Fuller.
Police said the accused gunman was not known to authorities here and that he left to travel in Asia and Europe. Muslim communities in NSW held prayers in Lakemba Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in the country, on Friday night, after the shooting incident. Tarrant was charged with one count of murder and further charges will be laid.