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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Australian police search homes near Christchurch mosque suspect's hometown

One house belonged to the sister of suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who was charged in New Zealand with murder on Saturday

A police officer outside the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019. REUTERS
A police officer outside the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019. REUTERS

Australian police have searched two homes in towns on the New South Wales coast linked to the investigation into Friday's massacres at mosques in New Zealand.

Police said a search warrant was executed on Monday morning by the state's Joint Counter-Terrorism Team at a home in the town of Sandy Beach, near Coffs Harbour, and another at a home in Lawrence, near Maclean.

The Australian Federal Police and NSW Police declined to identify the owners of the homes.

"The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their ongoing investigation," they said.

Authorities said the family of the Australian man arrested in Christchurch over the shootings were assisting police.

Australian media said one of the homes belonged to the sister of suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who was charged in New Zealand with murder on Saturday.

Tarrant, who formerly lived in Grafton in the same region where the police searches took place, has been remanded without issuing a plea and is due back in court on April 5, where police said he will probably face more charges.

New Zealand, a country that has traditionally had very low homicide rates, has been placed on its highest security threat level after its worst peacetime mass killing.

Fifty people were killed and dozens more wounded in the attack at two mosques.

Australia is assessing the risk posed by right-wing extremism and Prime Minister Scott Morrison will on Monday chair a meeting of the national security committee, a source said.

Mr Morrison will be briefed by Duncan Lewis, head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and federal police commissioner Andrew Colvin on local response to the mass shooting.

The likelihood of an Australian terror attack remains at "probable", the midpoint of a five-level ranking that was introduced in 2015.

Updated: March 18, 2019 08:31 AM

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