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Police charge Australian teenager with planning Anzac terror attack

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Crowds gather at the Australian War Memorial for the Anzac Day dawn service in Canberra, Australia, on April 25, 2016. Australian police have arrested and charged a teenager with a terrorism offence related to planning an attack at the commemorations of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli during World War One.

[SYDNEY] Australian police have arrested and charged a teenager with a terrorism offence related to planning an attack at Monday's commemorations of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli during World War One.

The 16-year-old boy was arrested near his Sydney home on Sunday and will appear before a children's court on Monday, police said. The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Anzac Day, April 25, is a major annual holiday in Australia and New Zealand marking the date of the first Gallipoli landings in 1915, in which large numbers of Australian and New Zealand troops fought and died.

Dawn services and military parades are held around the country, with the largest drawing crowds of tens of thousands in Sydney and Melbourne. "We have taken swift action to ensure community safety on the eve of a sacred day on the Australian calendar," New South Wales state Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said in a statement.

"The age of the individual is obviously a concern for us, and it remains a measure of the ongoing task facing law enforcement and the community." Mr Scipione later told a press conference police believed the boy was acting alone. "The risk from this particular threat has been thwarted," he said.

Several teenagers have been arrested in Australia in recent years and charged with terrorism offences, including five young men who police alleged were planning an attack at last year's centenary Anzac day celebrations.

Police said those planning the attack last year clearly took inspiration from the Islamic State movement, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

REUTERS