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Australian police arrest man in fake bomb attack

world Updated: Aug 16, 2011 23:22 IST

AP
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An Australian businessman was arrested in the United States in connection with an attack on a Sydney teen who had a fake bomb chained to her neck, police said on Tuesday.

The 50-year-old man was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday in an operation involving Australian police and the FBI, New South Wales state police said. Police will ask a US court to extradite him to Australia, and plan to charge him with aggravated breaking and entering and kidnapping. Officials have not released his name.

The arrest comes nearly two weeks after 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver was attacked in her home in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Mosman as part of an alleged extortion attempt that Australia's prime minister said resembled "a Hollywood script."

Pulver was home alone when police say a masked man broke into the house in the middle of the day, chained a device that looked like a bomb to her neck and left a note with demands before fleeing.

Bomb technicians, negotiators and detectives rushed to the scene. Neighboring homes were evacuated, streets were closed and medical and fire crews waited nearby. Pulver spent 10 terrifying hours chained to the device before the bomb squad was able to free her. She was not hurt, and the device was later found to contain no explosives.

Police say a note had been attached to the device, but they haven't released details of what it said. The attacker made no additional demands after fleeing, New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Dave Hudson said.

Police have said they're treating the case as an extortion attempt. The family lives in one of Sydney's ritziest areas and her father, William Pulver, is CEO of an information technology company.

"There are some links between the suspect and the family, however no direct links," Hudson told reporters.

The man has family in both the US and Australia, and conducts business in both countries, Hudson said. He declined to say whether the suspect had any direct business ties to William Pulver.

Hudson said police didn't identify the man as a suspect until he had fled Australia for Kentucky a few days after the attack. Officials are still working to determine a motive, he said.

"It's a fairly detailed chain of circumstantial evidence which has led us to making the arrest ... we believe it's fairly compelling," Hudson said.

Police are not searching for any other offenders in connection with the attack, Hudson said.

Pulver's father was expected to talk to the media later Tuesday.

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