ISIS Single Member "Haron Monis" Attacked in Sydney Cafe ! (Read Full Story)

17.15 A man who was leaving the coffee shop just as the gunman arrived has told Australia's Daily Telegraph how he came face-to-face with Monis - who threatened to shoot him.
Craig Stoker was walking down Phillip St after buying a coffee in the Lindt cafe when he bumped into the gunman.
Mr Stoker, a father-of-four from Eastlakes, said:
Quote He was wearing a black T-shirt with white writing on it and a headband and carrying a blue bag.
The bag bumped into me and there was something hard in it.
I said: ‘Watch where you are going’.
He turned round and said: ‘Do you want me to shoot you too?’.
I looked into his eyes and they were crazy. I was pretty freaked out.”
17.09 Earlier today, the former lawyer for Monis - the man behind the attack - spoke to ABC news about his client.
He arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1996, lived in Sydney's southwest and was "understood to be a fringe Islamist", the paper reported.
Manny Conditsis said the public could be assured that the siege was not the work of an organised terrorist group.
Quote This is a one-off random individual
It's not a concerted terrorism event or act. It's a damaged-goods individual who's done something outrageous."

16.58 Simeon Harris, a former sound recordist who was held hostage for six days during the Iranian Embassy siege of 1980, has spoken to Bill Gardner, who is following the story from London for us.
Mr Harris says the captives may well have formed a bond with the gunman during the crisis.
He told The Telegraph:
Quote You do feel it is like you inside versus them outside. You are trying to negotiate the settlement, all of you – the hostages and the hostage takers – they will bond in a Stockholm syndrome sort of way. He might lecture them on why he is doing this, and they won’t tell him to stop because they would be shot.”
During the Libyan Embassy crisis, Mr Harris pleaded with his captors to allow the hostages to leave, saying that this would allow them to get publicity without causing bloodshed.
He thinks a similar scenario may well have unfolded in the Lindt café.
Quote There was probably someone, or a small group, who came forward to negotiate (with the gunman) at some point. It would be someone with leadership skills, possible like a journalist – as the café is very near to Channel Seven – who will try to interact.
You go into complete terror; it is as though you are involved in a dreadful film.
People would also have tried to bond with each other, as your natural instinct is to find someone you can trust and talk to.”
16.56 Our political correspondent Matthew Holehouse is travelling with David Cameron.
Speaking to reporters in Poole, Dorset, Mr Cameron said the Sydney attack "could just as well happen here in the UK".
He said Britain "stands with the Australians at their time of need.
Quote Obviously it's an extremely worrying situation. It demonstrates the challenge we face of Islamist extremist violence all over the world. This is on the other side of the world but is the sort of thing that could just as well happen here in the UK or in Europe. We very much stand with the Australians at their time of need. We hope it will be resolved, but it is a reminder of the threat that we face and the need to be vigilant.
16.52 One woman in her 40s, likely one of the hostages, has been taken to Royal North Shore Hospital with a gun shot wound to her leg. A spokeswoman for the hospital said she was in a serious but stable condition.

16.38 Now that the siege is over, analysts are discussing what the latest terror attack means.
Jens David Ohlin, a professor of law at Cornell Law School in the US, says:
Today's crisis throws into sharp relief the dangers of lone wolf terrorism.
There are two areas of concern. The first is ISIS fighters with foreign passports who return to their home countries to commit acts of terrorism. The second is ISIS sympathizers - radicalized on the internet - who take it upon themselves to commit terrorist attacks to fulfill their radical ideology.
We are entering a new phase of terrorism that is far more dangerous, and more difficult to defeat, than al-Qaeda ever was."
16.37 Our correspondent in Sydney, Saffron Howden, has sent this roundup of the events which took place almost an hour ago.
Sydney siege ends with explosions and shouts
16.32 The intense gunfight is being shown on the 24 hours news channels.
They have new images from a different angle, which show the police shooting and also throwing in what could be stun grenades or smoke bombs.
There is a lot of noise, and series of bright flashes.
16.23 A hostage negotiator is now speaking to BBC News.
George Rhoden is being asked why the police may have gone in.
Quote My immediate reaction is that the hostage taker must have escalated the situation.
And also, it was late at night. All the capabilties of this individual will have been weaning as night fell.
We would have been fixating on the hostage individual - listening for key words and phrases. There also would have been liaison with the police.
16.22 It's still unclear why the police went in, and how many people - if any - were killed.
But it is now thought that the hostage taker is dead.
16.09 Local media is reporting the gunman has been killed and that at least one hostage is dead.
Police have not yet confirmed that.
15.55 A woman who appears to have been shot in the foot is taken on a stretcher out of the cafe.

15.49 Police confirm the siege is over

15.43 Channel Seven reporting two people dead and three injured. Other reports state five people being treated for injuries.
15.32 A bomb disposal expert in his huge green suit has just come out of the cafe - walking and looking calm rather than running.
He spoke to a fireman and a policeman.
He's now just going back in - entering the building again in a calm manner. Police and firemen are milling around on the corner.
15.29 A bomb disposal robot has been sent into the cafe. We are back with the live stream.
Hostages on stretchers
15.22 Reports that 11 hostages have been rescued - added to the five earlier today. Several of the hostages were carried away on stretchers.
15.18 Two paramedics seen entering the Lindt cafe.

15.15 Gunflight is underway in the Lindt cafe. The second round of gunfire appeared to take police by surprise. There were at least two, possibly three rounds of gunfire. We have halted and will edit our live stream to prevent disturbing images being broadcast. Saffron Howden reports:
Quote Sustained sound of gunfire for more than 10 seconds just now. Alarms are going off.
More hostages escpae from the Lindt cafe
15.12 At least five further hostage have escaped from the Sydney siege. Gunshots were heard. Police appeared to be prepared for them running out.
It is still unclear how many hostages remain in the cafe - but it could now be fewer than five.
Saffron Howden reports for The Telegraph from the scene:
Quote Just now there was a bang of some sort and then half a dozen or so people came running out of the building. There was a lot of yelling.
15.05 Video from "Sheikh" Man Haron Monis's YouTube account, published on November 12, shows him holding a sign with chains around his wrists. It reads: "I have been tortured in prison for my political letter":

14.46 The Telegraph's Tom Whitehead reports that suspected Sydney hostage taker Man Haron Monis had planned to send offensive letters to hundreds of families of British soldiers who died in Afghanistan:
Quote The fanatic said last year that he wanted to send a "very nice condolence letter" and "237 baskets of flowers" to the British families bereaved since 2001.
He was barred from carrying out his sick plan by a Sydney court after being charged with sending “grossly offensive” letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in battle.
At a hearing before the Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court in August 2013, he failed to overturn an order banning him from using the postal service to contact the families of military personnel.
Speaking after the hearing, he said that meant he would not be allowed to send his "very nice condolence letter" and "237 baskets of flowers" to the families of British soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan since October 2001.
"Why not? Why shouldn't we offer our condolences?" he asked.
"There is nothing wrong in the letters I have sent."
14.42 Video footage from Man Haron Monis's 2009 court appearance:

14.27 Harriet Alexander reports on one of the defining images of the Sydney hostage siege - that of Elly Chen, one of the five people to have escaped from Lindt cafe earlier today:
PHOTO: Jason Reed/Reuters
Quote It is a photo that has summed up the terror confronting Sydney.
A woman, who worked at the Lindt Cafe, runs panic-stricken from the building, leaving behind the gunman who had taken her and dozens of others hostage on Monday morning.
Now that woman has been identified as Elly Chen, a finance student at the University of New South Wales.
Man Haron Monis pictured at a court appearance in Sydney in 2009
Man Haron Monis
14.17 In October, Monis was chanrged with 40 indecent and sexual assault charges, including 22 counts of aggravated sexual assault and 14 counts of aggravated indecent assault relating to six women, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Man Haron Monis
14.00 The gunman has been named as Man Haron Monis.
He is a notorious 49-year-old self-proclaimed sheikh who claimed to practice black magic and was well known for multiple crimes including sending offensive letters to grieving families of dead Australian soldiers and allegedly murdering his ex-wife.
13.46 The scene at Lindt cafe is quiet - it has been over seven hours since the last of the five hostages escaped:
Police officers talk next to the Lindt cafe in Sydney (PHOTO: Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
13.02 It has just turned midnight in Sydney, and the first editions of the newspapers are hitting the streets:

12.56 A tweet from Channel 7's Chris Reason suggests the gunman could be monitoring media coverage of the Sydney siege:

New South Wales Tactical Police on Phillip Street close to the Lindt cafe (PHOTO: EPA)
12.12 Seven News reporter Cath Turner tweets:

11.54 The Sydney Morning Herald has written in an editorial stating that the country must "remain calm, retain perspective and embrace all sections of the community to ensure we can all go about our everyday lives free of fear":
Quote The siege in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place has tested Australians as individuals, and Australia as a civil and democratic society.
In fact we are having to face many tests, each of which challenges who we are, how we respond to criminal dangers in our midst and, most confronting, what sort of nation we want to be.
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
11.48 What will happen next? The Telegraph's Bill Gardner has spoken to a hostage expert, who did not want to be named, who explained officers are unlikely to go in guns blazing:
Quote There’s no reason for the police to do anything, unless they get news that the hostage is immediately about to start killing people. It’s a case of waiting to see what happens.
They will stay there until it gets dark. By two or three in the morning this guy will be almost gone, both physically and mentally. That’s the time when you want to flush this sucker out.
At this point, fatigue will already be starting to set in. You have no idea what tiredness plus extreme stress will do to the human body over a number of hours.
It’s then that the balance of power starts to shift. You don’t want to go in there when he’s still completely alert. Hopefully, he will be so tired that he will give himself up without hurting anyone. That’s the ideal result.
11.39 The #illridewithyou hashtag has now seen over 55,000 tweets in the past hour.
11.20 Malcolm Moore writes that the Sydney siege could be the latest in a series of attacks carried out around the world this year by lone radical Islamists, some in response to the West’s battle against the Islamic State:
Quote The Sydney siege could be part of a pattern of attacks this year by jihadists responding to a call to arms by the Islamic State, which has urged “lone wolf” attackers to strike back at the West.
“We have not seen a huge amount of evidence of Isil cells going abroad from Syria and Iraq but we have seen a number of attacks by people claiming links to the group,” said Raffaello Pantucci, a counter-terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute.
In May, 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche, who was under surveillance by the French police after he returned from fighting for Isil in Syria, launched a gun attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels, killing four.
In August, David Cameron warned that Isil now poses a direct threat, arguing that if the UK does not “it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain.”
11.14 More from Professor Greg Barton, who says that much of the concern about radicalised Australians has focused on disaffected Muslim youths in the outer suburbs of Sydney and other capital cities. Australia has about 500,000 Muslims, with large populations in Sydney and Melbourne. About 90 Australians have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with Isil and other extremist groups, with about 20 known to have died;
Quote There are some recurring themes [in the recruitment of jihadists].
“We have had a pattern of angry young men drawn to the idea that you become a man by doing something like fighting abroad and of lonely young boys who fall under the influence of a charismatic older man who strokes their self esteem and need for belonging. It is hundreds of individuals – let’s say 500 from 500,000. It is a fairly dangerous fraction of a per cent.
10.55 As the Sydney hostage siege enters its 12th hour, four armed men have taken at least one hostage in Ghent, Belgium. It is not clear whether the Ghent siege is related or if then gunmen there have islamist links.
10.52 Islamic State has tweeted:
Australian police are opressing Sunnis! They are denying us freedom of committing medieval crimes!!!
10.35 The hashtag '#illridewithyou' had been mentioned around 30,000 times on Twitter, according to social analytics site Topsy.
10.22 Jonathan Pearlman, The Telegraph's Australia correspondent, explains the situation with the Islamic flag shown in the Lindt cafe window:

10.14 More than 40 Australian Muslim groups have jointly condemned the Sydney siege. In a statement they said it was a "despicable act", adding:
Quote We reject any attempt to take the innocent life of any human being or to instill fear and terror into their hearts.
09.56 Nightfall in Sydney:
Rob Griffith/AP
09.52 The Twitter hashtag #illridewithyou is gaining a lot of traction in Australia, where commuters volunteer to travel on buses and trains with Muslims who may fear being attacked:

09.44 Witnesses describe how gunman took hostages in Lindt cafe. An Australian delivery man, who did not want to be identified, said:
Quote When I first arrived I noticed a lady outside trying to get someone's attention inside the café, knocking on the locked doors.
I did three loads and realised that she was still in there. Then the gunman opened a bag up to show the gun to her, and get rid of her.
And she went running down the stairs and said: 'Gun! Gun! Gun!' And we went out into Martin Place.
I saw the gunman. He was quite tall, probably late 40s, had a long white sleeved T-shirt and a black vest. He was very calm, pacing, looking into the lift well. And I could see other customers sitting down at their tables, they were still drinking, and I'm not sure how alert they were to what was going on. But they were locked in, and they were aware that they were locked in.
09.38 The Telegraph's Jonathan Pearlman reports that it is thought the Lindt cafe gunman is not acting alone:
Quote I have just spoken to one of Australia’s leading experts on home-grown terrorism, Professor Greg Barton, who says the gunman is probably not acting alone and it is “very worrying” that he is an older man rather than a young firebrand.
Professor Greg Barton, from Monash University, says the attack appears to have been carefully planned for maximum exposure. He noted the prominent location – a café opposite a television station – and the early use of black Arabic banners which the man presumably knew would attract global attention.
“He is likely to be a part of a network of people operating in terrorist cells, possibly abroad. It would be more reassuring if it was an angry young man behaving without a sense of purpose. An older man going about it is a more sinister element.”
Professor Barton says the siege is “not surprising” and that global jihadist leaders have increasingly been foreign urging fighters to launch attacks at home rather than flock to Iraq and Syria.
“Australia, like the UK and like most Western nations, has a worryingly large take-up rate of recruiters reaching out to young men to fight in Syria and Iraq. Now the crusaders are saying not just to attack abroad but to attack where you are.”

09.29 Jonathan Pearlman reports from the scene:
Quote The siege in Sydney comes just months after Australia’s biggest ever counter-terrorism raids and follows repeated warnings by ASIO, the domestic spy agency, of the growing threat of a homegrown domestic attack.
Much of the concern has focused on disaffected Muslim youths in the outer suburbs of Sydney and other capital cities. About 90 Australians have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with Isil and other extremist groups, with about 20 known to have died.
Just two weeks ago, the government passed new security laws, including the declaration of “no go zones” in Syria. Any Australian who travels to the zones could face 10 years in jail.
The raids in September apparently thwarted a plot to conduct public beheadings on the streets of Sydney.
Australia has about 500,000 Muslims, with large populations in Sydney and Melbourne.
Two hostages run for cover behind a policeman during the hostage siege (Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images)
09.24 Andrew Scipione, New South Wales Police Commissioner, says:
Quote Our plan and only goal is to get those people out of that building.
I understand that no one has been injured, and if that is true we are grateful.
We are only dealing with one location [Martin Place]. We are not concerned about any other location.
We have got contact with him (the gunman).
09.23 Mike Baird, Premier of New South Wales, says:
Quote I have complete confidence in the NSW police. They have been absolutely outstanding.
09.21 The lights have gone out in the Lindt cafe:

09.17 The Telegraph's Bill Gardner has put together this explainer on what we know so far about the Sydney hostage siege:
QuoteWhat happened?
Dozens of people were inside the Lindt Chocolat Café in downtown Sydney during the Monday-morning rush when at least one armed gunman burst in and took them all hostage.
Armed officers surrounded the shop in Martin Place as the incident unfolded, and nearby buildings in the busy financial district were evacuated.
Police have said they know of one armed assailant, but there could be more.
Paramilitary officers cordoned off several blocks around the cafe as negotiators tried to defuse one of the biggest security scares in Australia for decades. Snipers and a SWAT team took up positions around the cafe and police helicopters flew overhead.
09.04 ABC reporting it has identified the gunman, but police have asked for identity not to be made public:

08.53 A picture of one of the male hostages after fleeing:

08.50 There are several reports that the number of hostages inside the cafe is actually around 15.
08.49 Lindt Australia has posted a message on its Facebook page thanking the public for its support:
Quote We are deeply concerned over this serious incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the staff and customers involved and all their friends and families.
08.47 Tony Abbott's statement:

08.40 Chris Reason from 7 News Sydney tweets:

08.26 The flag that was held at the window is a Shahada flag - a declaration of Islamic faith - against a black background. It is not an Isil flag. The text says: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is the message of God.”
However, the gunman reportedly demanded an Isil flag as one of the demands he made to police, sparking speculation he may have made a mistake.

08.18 Ten hours into the siege, it is still unclear exactly how many hostages remain in the cafe.
08.04 There is speculation that the 'human shield' used by the suspected gunman is in fact a mannequin / fake hand that he is holding up:

08.02 Video footage of the two Lindt employees who managed to flee the siege:

07.58 A police officer runs across Martin Place near the Lindt cafe:
David Gray/Reuters
07.44 Deputy Police Commissioner, Catherine Burn, is giving another press briefing. She said:
Quote I won’t clarify any operation tactics at the moment. It is really important to remember that this is ongoing, that we still have people who are being held. We still have a person that we are dealing with. So as soon as we are able to provide that information, we certainly will but the good news is that we do have five people who have come out of that building and that we are now dealing with.
We have got this situation contained to one area.
07.38 Channel Ten reports that the gunman told police "there are 4 bombs... two inside the Lindt cafi at Martin Place - and two further in the Sydney CBD".
07.32 Several people have been taking 'selfies' from the scene of the siege in Sydney's business district, while others have reportedly turned up with cans of beer to watch events unfold:

07.28 David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has tweeted:

07.25 The Telegraph's Jonathan Pearlman reports from Sydney:
Quote Police have reportedly identified the gunman who has besieged the cafe. The man's name has not yet been released.
A witness, who refused to be named, told ABC News earlier today: “He was quite calm. He was quite tall, Middle Eastern appearance, late 40s.”
Meanwhile Channel Ten has become the third broadcaster to be contacted by hostages. Two hostages have apparently contacted the station. As with previous communications, the hostages indicated the demands were a request to speak with Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and a request for an Isil flag to be brought to the cafe.
A Channel Nine reporter who earlier spoke to two women said one was calm and the other was panicked. One of the women asked for a message to be relayed to her husband.
07.12 Footage of the siege and the Tony Abbott press conference:

06.51 Armed police officers point as they stand at the ready close to the cafe under siege at Martin Place:
Rob Griffith/AP
06.43 In total it is now thought that five people have fled the cafe - three men and two women. They are thought to have escaped through fire escapes and a back door of the cafe.
06.38 A hostage runs to armed tactical response police officers for safety after she escaped from the cafe under siege:
Rob Griffith/AP
A second woman, also apparently an employee of the Lindt cafe is taken to safety by armed officers:
Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images
Rob Griffith/AP
06.20 Suggeston from Jamal Daoud, secular moslem leader in Sydney that gunman is one of 70 people prevented from leaving Australia to fight in Syria
06.01 Two more hostages, both women workers wearing aprons also filmed making a dash for freedom.
05.55 Jonathan Pearlman, our man on the ground in Sydney reports: "Several hostages inside the besieged café have been using mobile phones to make contact with local media stations in Sydney.
"Channel Nine says it has spoken to two hostages but was asked by police not to reveal any further information. Families of the hostages have been notified.
"A third hostage spoke to radio broadcaster Ray Hadley who refused to put the man on air. Hadley said the man was “remarkably calm” and appeared to be taking instructions from someone on the background.
"There is speculation the gunman, who appears keen for publicity, could be allowing the hostages to make calls."
05.35 Australia's leading moslem cleric, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, condemns hostage taking. The country's Grand Mufti, says the Islamic community is devastated by the incident,
"The Grand Mufti and the Australian National Imams Council condemn this criminal act unequivocally and reiterate that such actions are denounced in part and in whole in Islam," he says in a statement.
05.01 Catherine Burn, New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner says that there has been no indication that anybody has been harmed. Contact has been made with the gunman, but no news of his motivation. "The first thing we will do is make sure they are okay.
04.48 Footage emerges of three people dashing out of the building. The first is wearing a blue jacked and beige trousers, the second a white shirt and dark trousers and the third a brown apron.
04.38 Local reports that at least two hostages, possibly three, have escaped as police get closer to the cafe. One of those seen running away wearing an apron, suggesting that this was a worker.
04.34 Hostages appear to have made contact with the local media, apparently at the behest of the man who is holding them captive. Ray Hadley a 2GB radihost said he was rung by one of the people trapped inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe, but refuses to put him on the air as was being demanded by his captor. Mr Hadley said he was asked to say things he simply could not say.
04.33 Change of heart from Uber, which has decided that the laws of supply and demand are best not applied in the current situation. It announces that all rides will be free for people leaving the Sydney siege area
03.48 There's still plenty of discussion about which organisation's flag was seen in the window of the cafe. Commentators on Twitter have pointed out the same black flag - or variations on it - has been used by a string of extremist groups, such Hizb al-Tahrir, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, Boko Haram as well as militants in Libya and Syria and so on. The one used by Isil has been rather modified and looks quite different. Truth is that anybody can do whatever they want with a flag. Might specify a particular radical gropup. Or it might not.

03.10 The press conference given by Andrew Scipione, the New South Wales Police Commissioner, was pretty short on detail. He successfully batted away most questions but he did however seem to say that there was only a single gunman involved:
QuoteI can confirm for you that we have an armed offender in the premises holding an undisclosed number of hostages in the city, in the Martin Place area.
03.01 Andrew Scipione, the New South Wales Police Commissioner, is giving a press conference now. He is not providing details of the operation or the number of hostages but is rather sticking to what he calls a "high level" briefing. However, he has made clear that police are not in direct contact with the hostage taker.
QuoteWe are working as long as we need to to bring this to a peaceful outcome.

02.50 Krishnan Guru-Murthy is on the spot for Channel 4 News, filing video:

02.40 So we are now four hours into the siege, with little clearer idea of what is happening. There may be as many as 50 hostages in a Lindt café. A black flag was held up to the window, believed to show the Islamic Shahada - a declaration of the unity of God - but there is no stated motive or any demand from the hostage taker.
02.35 You have to admire the sheer brass neck of Uber. After weeks of poor publicity around the world, its surge pricing policy now seems to have kicked in in the middle of a security crisis. Mashable is reporting that it is charging a mimimum of $100 to users in downtown Sydney.

02.30 There has been some online detective work to translate the writing seen on the perpetrator's headband. Not much can be made out except "Ya Mohammed".

02.25 Reports from Washington that Barack Obama has been briefed by his director of Homeland Security and counter-terrorism chief.

02.18 Member of staff at Lindt coffeeshop, who was due to start a later shift, tells Australia's ABC News that woman seen at window is another member of staff. She sounds distraught.
QuoteNothing bad ever happens at Lindt.

02.12 Jonathan Pearlman, our man in Sydney, says the rest of the city has come to a standstill, with evacuations and bomb scares now spreading beyond the site of the continuing incident.
QuoteThe siege is occurring at Martin Place in the heart of the city, which led to evacuations of thousands of office workers and staff from the nearby hospital, library, courthouses and parliament.
But evacuations have also now been conducted far from the Lindt cafe in Martin Place. The Sydney Opera House, about a 20-minute walk from the cafe, has been evacuated.
All courthouses around the central business district have also been closed.
Beyond the CBD, a suspicious object was found at Green Park in the inner-city suburb of Darlinghurst, which led to some evacuations in the nearby hospital and offices.
The widespread evacuations were conducted calmly - and locals appeared not to be panicking - but they have left an eerie quiet in and around the city centre.

01.57 And some more of Mr Abbott's brief statement:
QuoteWe have to appreciate that even in a society such as ours, there are people who would wish to do us harm, that's why we have police and security organisations of the utmost professionalism that are ready and able to respond to a whole range of situations and contingencies including this situation that we are now seeing in Sydney.
The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people out of being themselves. Australia is a peaceful, open, and generous society. Nothing should ever change that and that's why I would urge all Australians today to go about their business as usual.
01.53 Tony Abbott was delayed as he received more briefings but is speaking now. He has asked for anyone with relevant information to come forward and warned against jumping to conclusions.
QuoteWe don't yet know the motivation of the perpetrator. We don't know whether this is politically motovated. Obviously there are some indications that it could be.
01.51 The Guardian has spoken to the fiance of one of the hostages. Neither is being named for the time being
QuoteShe's the sweetest person ever who thinks about everyone. She took some of my old shoes and made me wash them and she gave thrm to a homeless guy. She just cares about everyone. She's organised restaurant bookings and stuff for her workmates.
01.47 So far we know that number of key buildings in Sydney are reported to have been evacuated. They include the nearby US consulate including the headquarters of the 7 Network, Sydney Opera House - where there were reports of a suspicious package - New South Wales State library and the New South Wales Supreme Court

01.41 The leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has released a statement:
QuoteOur thoughts and prayers today are with the innocent people involved in this morning's incident in Martin Place, Sydney. Our thoughts are also with their families who are seeing this incredibly distressing situation unfold, along with the rest of Australia.
I have full confidence in the skill and professionalism of our police and security agencies.
I have spoken to Prime Minister Tony Abbott this morning and offered him the Opposition's full support at this time.
Australians can be assured that we are one when it comes to keeping Australians safe.
01.39 New South Wales Police are working hard to use social media to stop rumours getting out of hand. They have just issued a Facebook message saying a photo circulating of the arrest of a man near Martin Place is NOT related to the police operation.
01.38 There were also reports that Chifley Place about 300 metres north east from Martin Place has also been locked down
01.35 Our man in Sydney, Jonathan Pearlman, says the siege comes months after Australia's biggest ever counter-terrorism raids and follows repeated warnings by ASIO, the domestic spy agency, of the growing threat of a homegrown domestic attack.
QuoteMuch of the concern has focused on disaffected Muslim youths in the outer suburbs of Sydney and other cities. About 90 Australians have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with Isil and other extremist groups, with about 20 known to have died.
Just two weeks ago, the government passed new security laws, including the declaration of "no go zones" in Syria. Any Australian who travels to the zones could face 10 years in jail.
The raids in September apparently thwarted a plot to conduct public beheadings on the streets of Sydney.
Australia has about 500,000 Muslims, with large populations in Sydney and Melbourne.

01.24 Mike Baird, the premier of New South Wales, has issued a statement on Twitter: "My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the situation in Martin Place & NSW Police who are trained to deal with these events."

01.17 Steve Loane, Lindt's chief executive, said he believed that there could be as many as 50 hostages inside the cafe
01.14 Tony Abbott is to address reporters in Canberra at 12.30pm local time, that's in about 15 min.
01.10 New South Wales Police have issued a statement and say specialist officers are trying to make contact with those inside the coffeeshop.
QuoteSome nearby offices have been evacuated as a precaution. Anyone else in the area encompassing Hunter, George, Elizabeth and Macquarie streets bordering Martin Place is directed to remain indoors and away from open windows. Anyone in the vicinity but outside that area is free to leave their buildings.
Police urge members of the public to remain calm and note that an appropriate police presence is in place.
Police urge the media to be responsible in their reporting. Speculation can cause unnecessary alarm. We will attempt to keep you updated and Police will release more information when it has been confirmed.
01.08 Latest from Reuters: Airlines said on Monday that flights are landing and taking off normally at Sydney Airport, but a diversion is in place around the city's central business district after reports that a gunman had taken hostages in a cafe in the centre of the city.

00.49 Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he has convened the National Security Committee for emergency briefings.
"This is obviously a deeply concerning incident but all Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner," the prime minister's office says in a statement.

00.46 A police spokesman says no injuries have been reported.
00.43 The person behind the siege has reportedly claimed he wants to speak to Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, live on radio.
He reportedly told police negotiators he had “devices all over the city”.

Man seen through window in Sydney ( 7 News)
Reports suggest there are between 13 and 40 people inside the café.
00.41 Rob Crilly sheds some light on the meaning of the flag:
"There's a lot of discussion about the nature of the flag hanging in the coffeeshop window. It represents the Shahada, an Islamic creed which reads: “There is no god but the God, Mohammed is the messenger of God”. However, putting it on a black background some suggest it has been appropriated as an Islamist symbol."

00.34 Dozens of police including a SWAT team are there and a couple of hundred people are being held back by cordons.
Trains and buses have been stopped and roads are blocked in the area. Train operators are saying there has been a bomb threat at Martin Place.

00.29 New South Wales state police are not saying what is happening inside the Lindt Chocolat Cafe or whether hostages were being held. But television footage shot through the cafe's windows shows several people with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the glass.
00.26 Australian police say they are also responding to an "incident" at Sydney Opera House. The Opera House was evacuated after a suspicious package was found, television channels are reporting.
00.15 Jonathan Pearlman sets the scene where the siege is taking place. "As any visitor to Sydney would know, Martin Place – the site of the siege – is effectively the heart of Sydney.

Armed police at the siege in Sydney
"The pedestrian mall is lined with stately nineteenth century buildings: it is bookended by the state parliament building at the top of the mall and the general post office at the bottom. It houses the offices of the state’s central bank, as well as two of the nation’s biggest financial institutions: Commonwealth Bank, one of the biggest banks in the world, and Macquarie Bank.
"The Lindt café, about half-way down the mall, has only been open about a decade but has become something of an institution. The café is directly opposite from the offices of the Channel Seven television station, whose reporters were shocked to see the siege unfold before them this morning.
00.05 Twenty hostages have been taken by gunmen – apparently Islamic extremists - at a popular café in Martin Place, the heart of Sydney.
The siege began at the Lindt chocolate shop café at about 9.45am, local time, and has brought the city to a standstill.
Horrifying images have emerged showing hostages holding up a black flag with Arabic writing against the café window which looks out across the busy pedestrian mall in the centre of Sydney’s central business district.
Powered by Blogger.