Thu, January 20, 2022

in-focus

Australia kicks off global New Year party defying terror threat


Global terror attacks have cast a pall over 2016 but Australia was Saturday set to defy the threats and ring in the New Year with bumper crowds gathering to watch a firework extravaganza on Sydney's glittering harbour.

2016 has seen repeated bloodshed, most recently a deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market, a similar incident on Bastille Day in France that killed 86, and atrocities in Turkey and the Middle East.

Some 1.5 million people are packing Australia's biggest city to watch the midnight fireworks, a larger-than-usual crowd due to the weekend timing and warm weather, as the New South Wales state premier urged "business as usual".

"My encouragement to everyone is to enjoy New Year's Eve... in the knowledge that police are doing everything they can to keep us safe," Premier Mike Baird said.

Some 2,000 extra officers have been deployed after a man was arrested for allegedly making online threats against the celebrations.

There were a number of other reported threats this holiday period, in Asia-Pacific and elsewhere.

In Melbourne, police foiled a "significant" Islamic State-inspired Christmas Day terror plot.

Indonesia said it foiled plans by an IS-linked group for a Christmas-time suicide bombing, and 52 died in the Philippines in bomb attacks blamed on Islamist militants.

Israel on Friday issued a warning of imminent "terrorist attacks" to tourists and western targets in India, telling its citizens to avoid public places.
Meanwhile in Japan, shoppers filled markets to buy tuna and crabs -- seen as expensive items of indulgence and special feasts -- for New Year's Day family gatherings.

Published : December 31, 2016

By : Agence France-Presse Sydney