Counter-terrorism squad set up to protect South Australians from extremist attacks

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-12 09:57:45|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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CANBERRA, June 12 (Xinhua) -- South Australia (SA) has established its first-ever high-level counter-terrorism police unit to protect citizens from large-scale attacks.

SA's Minister for Police Corey Wingard on Wednesday announced 3 million Australian dollars (2.08 million U.S. dollars) in funding over four years for the initiative, which came after similar teams were established in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

The new squad will be based at a new specially-built headquarters, the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre, at a secret location so it does not become a target for a terror attack.

News Corp Australia reported on Tuesday that students at seven public schools in SA were identified as being at-risk of religious or political radicalization in 2018.

Wingard said on Wednesday that the new squad would significantly boost SA's defences against extremist events such as New Zealand's Christchurch mosque shootings on March, which were allegedly carried out by a radicalized Australian.

"Tragically, horrific incidents, such as what we saw in Christchurch earlier this year, have become a threat and South Australia is not immune to that," Wingard told News Corp on Wednesday.

"That is why the government is building a formidable defence against such behavior. This new squad will proactively act to stop such a threat from arising and, if needed, provide an important tool to our security teams if an incident occurs."

The squad will be made up of members of the SA police force (SAPOL) and SA Health specialists, including mental health workers, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

"Outposting SA Health employees to SAPOL will enable a more immediate response to a risk, as SA Health workers have access to mental health information systems," SA's Health Minister Stephen Wade said.

"It will also allow health and law and order issues to be dealt with simultaneously."