SYDNEY -- Detectives investigating race riots that rocked Sydney last week seized a pistol, ammunition, knives, and smoke bombs in a series of raids yesterday.
The weapons haul came after police questioned five men who were detained Sunday night with a container of gasoline and objects for putting together fuel bombs in their car, New South Wales Police said in a statement.
Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said material in the car suggested the men had links to white supremacist groups.
Four of the men were released after questioning and the fifth was ordered to appear in court Jan. 17 on charges of being armed with intent to commit an indictable offense.
State Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said police raided five homes in Sydney and the nearby city of Wollongong and arrested one man. He was not immediately charged.
News of the raids came as New South Wales state's top political leader, Premier Morris Iemma, said police believe the threat of racial violence at Sydney's southern beaches has passed for now, and he urged people to return to the seaside.
''The intelligence and the security assessments are such that people are encouraged to return to normal business," Iemma told reporters. ''This can change, but at the moment the assessments are that we want a return to normal."
Federal authorities said they will begin trying to trace cellphone text messages blamed for inciting the riots.
''The Commonwealth law enforcement authorities have advised New South Wales Police that they think they can start tracing all of these texts," New South Wales Police Minister Carl Scully told Macquarie Radio.
''If that is the case and we do nab a few of them, that will be a very sobering message because they face the risk of being put in jail for a long time."
Police confiscated several cellphones carrying such messages over the weekend, along with weapons, including fuel bombs, swords, knives, baseball bats and a club made from a stick studded with nails.
About 2,000 police participated in a major operation to maintain public order, stopping, checking and sometimes confiscating cars.
''We feel that the police have been involved to the point where we have stopped potential disasters from happening in and around our beachside suburbs, so we are confident we averted potentially major tragedies," New South Wales state Assistant Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told television's Nine Network.
The police buildup followed a Dec. 11 riot by thousands of white youths, many of them drunk, to protest the beating a week earlier of two lifeguards on Cronulla beach by a group of men identified by witnesses as being of Lebanese descent.
The riot was followed by two nights of retaliatory violence by youths of Middle Eastern appearance in and around Cronulla.