Australian police have mobilized around the nation's largest city, Sydney, in a massive security operation aimed at preventing a repeat of the racial violence that hit the city a week ago.

Witnesses say police set up road blocks and searched cars heading for Sydney's beaches Saturday, snarling traffic. They say the normally crowded beaches were virtually empty as people heeded the call to stay away from troubled areas.

Last Sunday, thousands of white youths at Sydney's Cronulla Beach attacked people of Middle Eastern appearance. The attacks followed allegations that ethnic Lebanese youths had assaulted two lifeguards at the beach and harassed local women.

Following the violence, the New South Wales parliament passed special laws giving police in Sydney more powers to crack down on racial unrest.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.