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Melbourne 'terror plot': Three held over 'chilling' gun plan, police say

Australian police say they have arrested three men who were plotting to commit a terror attack in Melbourne.

The group had been attempting to source a semi-automatic rifle to kill as many people as possible in a crowded place, authorities said.

The suspects - aged 21, 26 and 30 - were allegedly inspired by the Islamic State group.

There was no ongoing threat to the public, said Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton.

Mr Ashton said the men had not settled on a location for the alleged attack, but their planning had "escalated" in recent days.

"They were certainly looking at a place of mass gathering, where there would be crowds, because they were trying to focus on trying to have a place where they could kill as many people as possible," he told reporters on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, in Melbourne in what police said was a terror attack.

Mr Ashton said the suspects arrested on Tuesday had become "more energised" in the past week, but it was unclear whether this was due to increased public discussion about terrorism.

The three men, all Australian citizens of Turkish descent, were arrested in police raids in Melbourne's north-west on Tuesday. Two are brothers, police said.

The group had been tracked by authorities since last year and recently had their passports cancelled over fears they would engage in terrorism activity overseas, Mr Ashton said.