Teens face trial for alleged plot to kill Austrian police

VIENNA (Reuters) - Two Austrian teenagers have been charged with planning to kill as many police officers as they could in a jihadist attack on a provincial police station ordered by a Chechen member of Islamic State, according to court documents.

Two 19-year-Austrians and a 22-year-old Chechen who has lived in Austria since childhood will go on trial in Vienna on Wednesday. Details of the plot were reported by Austrian news agency APA, which cited a prosecutors' charge sheet.

A court spokeswoman confirmed the report, which comes amid a series of jihadist attacks across the continent that have so far spared neutral Austria.

The plot came to light when authorities found internet chats that one of the suspects allegedly held with a German man accused in a separate case of plotting a jihadist bomb attack with the help of another Austrian teen.

According to the APA account, a Chechen IS member known as Abu Nuuh instructed one of the Austrian suspects in 2015 to murder police officers.

That suspect had fled to Austria from Chechnya in 2005 with his parents and, like his co-defendants, become radicalized in 2015.

The documents allege the suspects planned to rob a weapons shop in Sankt Poelten, the capital of Lower Austria province, and use the arms to attack a police station in the town.

"The plan was to shoot at police officers until we die," the oldest suspect said in a confession, according to the court documents. The assault was never carried out after authorities made public an anonymous tip about the plan.

The suspects at first confessed after their arrests, but later said they did not plan to follow through on any attack given their fear and doubts about whether they were doing the right thing.

The trial is set to be held under tight security.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich, Writing by Michael Shields)

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