'How-to guide' to protect Australians from vehicle attacks

 20 Aug 2017 - 21:34

'How-to guide' to protect Australians from vehicle attacks
The truck riddled with bullets that was driven by a man through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day being towed away by breakdown lorry in the French Riviera city of Nice, July 15, 2016 (AFP Boris Horvat)

AFP

Sydney:  Australia Sunday released a strategy to prevent vehicle terror attacks carried out in crowded public places following deadly assaults in Barcelona, Nice and London.

The report -- commissioned after 86 people were killed in the Nice truck attack last year -- gives venue operators a "toolkit" to work from when addressing terrorism concerns.

"As we have seen from tragic events in Paris, London, Berlin and Barcelona, terrorists continue to target crowded places," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement.

"The strategy will assist owners and operators to increase the safety, protection and resilience of crowded places across Australia."

The strategy offers businesses and local governments a guide to assessing how vulnerable their sites are to attacks, including from vehicles, and how to make them safer.

Suggested steps include deterrent options like fencing and closed circuit cameras, delaying approaches such as trees and statues to slow down vehicles, and quick response staff.

"You can obviously have bollards, you can have seating... you can have works of art, you can have steps, planter boxes," Turnbull added to reporters in Sydney.

"At the design stage, it can be done very unobtrusively."

The report acknowledged that even the best plans might not stop attacks on crowded locations, but said the measures could reduce the likelihood of such assaults and their consequences.

"It is a constant battle for us. It is a tragic reflection of our times that we need to be taking these sorts of measures," Transport Minister Darren Chester told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier Sunday.

"I think inevitably there will be restrictions that may affect people as they go about their daily lives, but it is a balancing act I guess."

The attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside town of Cambrils left 14 people dead and hundreds injured. In Barcelona, a van sped down the popular Las Ramblas avenue, which was packed full of tourists.

Three Australians were wounded while a young boy, a British-Australian dual national, reportedly remains missing after the attack.

Australia is no stranger to vehicle-style attacks, with six people killed in January after a car mowed down shoppers in the heart of its second-largest city Melbourne.

The attack, which was not terror-related, shocked Australians and took place near Melbourne Park where top tennis stars were playing in 2017's opening Grand Slam.

Canberra has become increasingly worried about homegrown extremism and officials say they have prevented 13 terror attacks on home soil in the past few years.