CANBERRA – Two 16-year-old Australian boys arrested in Sydney after each bought a knife were charged on Thursday with planning a terrorist attack on behalf of the extremist Islamic State group, police said. The two were arrested by the federal-state Joint Counter-Terrorism Team in the western suburb of Bankstown on Wednesday, New South Wales state Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said, as Australia marked the 14th anniversary of extremist bombings in Indonesia that killed 202, including 88 Australians. Burn said police had been concerned about the pair for some time and that the boys had potentially been radicalized by peers. The pair had bought "two bayonet-type knives" from a Bankstown gun shop then caught a bus to the street near a Muslim prayer hall where they were arrested, Burn said. Police did not know their intended target, but an attack was imminent, she said.
Parts of eastern Australia are experiencing their wettest spring since records began. Days, if not weeks, of heavy rain have led to some parts of New South Wales being inundated with their worst flooding in a quarter of a century. Around 1,000 residents in the rural town of Forbes, located in the central western part of the state, were forced to leave their homes as the flood waters peaked late in the weekend. More than 100 properties have been affected so far, with local media reporting widespread damage to crops. The rain has now eased, but the flood waters are expected to linger for much of this week.
SYDNEY – A man "inspired by" the Islamic State group was Sunday charged with committing an act of terrorism following a stabbing attack that Australian police called the "new face of terrorism." The alleged stabbing by the 22-year-old in Sydney came two days after a teenage boy was charged with making threats at the Sydney Opera House, and both incidents followed a call by the Islamic State to target high-profile Australian sites. The man, named in local media as Ihsas Khan, was charged with committing a terrorist act and attempted murder after the alleged attack on a 59-year-old man Saturday in the southwestern Sydney suburb of Minto. "We know that this person has strong extremist beliefs inspired by ISIS (Islamic State)," New South Wales state police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters in Sydney, adding that investigators had seized a "large knife." Federal Attorney-General George Brandis said investigators established the alleged Islamic State link after seizing material related to the militant group, without giving further details.
Heavy rain and damaging winds battered parts of southeast Australia over the weekend. Trees and power lines were brought down in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania as the severe weather swept across the region. Rainfall amounts were typically around 15mm on Saturday and Sunday, but as much as 40mm was recorded over the northeast ranges. This is an area that normally sees about 50mm of rain for the entire month of May. Of greater significance was the strength of the winds which reached gusts of more than 100km/h.
Batemans Bay, a coastal town south of Sydney, has been invaded by more than 100,000 bats. The New South Wales state government said it would commit about 1.8m to help the local council to disperse the animals, according to local media. The animals, known as grey-headed flying foxes, are considered a vulnerable species, meaning that they must be dispersed using non-lethal means, like smoke, or noise. Animal rights groups have called for residents to remain patient and wait for the bats to move on of their own accord. Residents cannot open windows and complain of the noise and odour from the animals.