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Outrage at police target practice

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SYDNEY, Australia -- Police in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland have come under fire for using photographs of real people, including Aborigines, for target practice.

Indigenous leaders and civil liberty advocates reacted with outrage after local media reports on the weekend revealed 28 "mug shot" photos were used in training exercises by Queensland's counter-terrorist squad.

"It is a despicable act," Ray Robinson, a senior Aboriginal leader told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"I think it is outrageous in a country where we are truing to achieve reconciliation between black and white Australians."

"It's absolutely disgraceful in that it reinforces prejudices," Cameron Murphy, secretary of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, told Reuters news service.

Queensland police commissioner Bob Atkinson defended the use of the ten-year-old images -- of four women and 24 men, two of which were of people with dark complexions -- and said police used the photographs in order to be prepared for real-life hostage situations.

But he apologized for any "embarrassment or hurt" caused to those whose pictures were identified in the media report.

Queensland's police minister has ordered an inquiry into the practice.

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