'Terrorist' camps raided by police

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The Independent Online

New Zealand police raided alleged military-style training camps and private homes yesterday, seizing firearms and arresting 17 people on arms and possible terrorism offenses, authorities said.

More than 300 officers took part in the raids in several parts of North Island and in the southern city of Christchurch, which followed reports to police of camps being used to train people to use a variety of weapons.

"They are training in the use of firearms and other weapons. These are military-style activities that they were training for," Police Commissioner Howard Broad told reporters.

"I believe this is domestically-oriented, I don't have evidence there is an international connection to this," he said.

The groups involved were drawn from "various ethnicities" and had "a variety of motivations," he said, adding they included Maori sovereignty activists and environmental protest groups.

Broad said a number of firearms had been found in the raids.

"I don't believe that protest activity involves firearms or other weapons," he said.

Police spokeswoman Jane Archibald told The Associated Press the 17 people arrested, including four women, would appear in district courts on firearms charges.

In the capital, Wellington, two men and two women appeared in court on weapons changes, including illegal possession of military-style firearms and Molotov cocktails. They were ordered to remain in custody and their names and other details were suppressed by the court.

Further arrests were possible, Archibald said, with inquiries continuing in some areas.