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Australia starts probe on bungled intelligence 'raid'

Five heavily armed Australian intelligence agents stormed Melbourne's Sheraton Hotel, chopped down a door on the 10th floor, and threatened staff in a bungled training exercise yesterday.

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''It was a particularly nasty and, as far as I am concerned, intolerable incident,'' said Foreign Minister Bill Hayden, who oversees the Australian Security Intelligence Service.

The agents, whom Mr. Hayden identified during a Parliament briefing as trainees, armed themselves with sledgehammers, tear gas, and submachine guns and burst into the hotel Wednesday night in a commando-style exercise.

There were nearly 400 guests in the hotel at the time of the raid, but no injuries were reported.

Hayden said the operation took place without his knowledge or approval and promised an immediate investigation.

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