New Zealand police swoop on weapon training camps

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WELLINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) New Zealand police said they had raided camps today where training in firearms and other weapons was being given, and detained 10 people.

Details on the nature and purpose of the camps were sketchy, but local media reported one of those arrested was a prominent activist of the indigenous Maori people.

Armed police swooped on a several locations in the country's North Island, including the isolated eastern cost, following up information collected over the past year.

''Based on the information and the activity known to have taken place, I decided it was prudent that action should be taken in the interests of public safety,'' Police Commissioner Howard Broad told a news conference.

He said police had ben aware from last year that a number of people had been taking part in the training camps.

Police had been searching for evidence of offences against the country's tight firearms laws and possibly a never-used anti-terrorism law, Broad said, adding that people should not jump to conclusions.

''We are, therefore, proceeding with full care in talking to people and assessing information before we can determine whether there is sufficient evidence to seek the consent of the Attorney General through the Solicitor General to charge anyone under that (Terrorism) Act,'' he said.

Ten people had been arrested on various charges, none of them terror-related, and would appear in court over the next day.

New Zealand, a South Pacfic nation of 4.2 million people, has no history of domestic-related terrorism, although Maori, who make up around 15 per cent of the population, have at times staged high-profile demonstrations and land occupations to highlight historic grievances.

Reuters CS VP0640

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