This is a very serious situation taking place live on TV. All sorts of reporting about who and why they have taken hostages…Lets hope the hostages get out alive- UPDATE Unfortunately that has not been the case. I personally think they needed to react much much earlier and take the asshole out.The dust will settle and all that will be analysed. My thoughts are really with the family and friends of hostages both dead and alive.
There are hundreds and hundreds of bouquets, it’s probably about 15 metres by 15 metres and growing rapidly… the thing that struck me is that these aren’t just random bouquets, people have gone to the effort of writing personal notes to the families and to the victims.
ABC 702 reporter John Donegan
sad update this morning, he also made hostages film this tape yesterday afternoon causing great anguish and stress, as the hostages cannot understand why a few simple demands had still not been met (in their eyes) which would enable their release.Compelling viewing (removed by youtube ATM)
Hauntingly I have been able to find his website via the archives online and check out this ominous warning in relation to channel 7 and something they broadcast quite a while ago, in 2011 (Click image to enlarge
A good insight, until we get the official reports from the enquiry I will not be posting any more news media…
Sliding door tragedy of the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place
December 19, 2014
HE orders a skinny flat white.
He is in a hurry, yet there’s time to admire the vaulted ceilings of the former bank chamber.
The four well-dressed ladies around the corner seem so happy. Here’s an old fellow alone at a table. Then, they call his name. “Chris?” Wow. That was quick.
Chris Kenny does not see a middle-aged man with the scruffy beard, a father of four who likes his coffee.
He is sitting at a table, a sawn-off shotgun in a blue bag, chatting with the cafe manager.
Kenny, a senior journalist at The Australian, is walking out the door.
His phone is ringing and his mind is elsewhere. It’s 5AA, a South Australian radio station, for a pre-arranged interview.
Kenny sits at an outside table, a few metres from the automatic doors. He discusses the state Liberal Party’s apparent need for generational change.
As he finishes, three motorcycle police pull up with sirens blaring.
A woman tells officers she has tried to enter through the cafe’s sliding doors. They have been locked shut.
Kenny’s interview started at 9.40am. He may have been the last person to walk through the sliding doors of the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place.
He belongs now with David Johnson, the Lindt cafe worker given the day off, and his colleague Bruno, who turns up just before 10am for his shift.
He belongs with us, on the outside, if only just, in the chaos of sirens and roadblocks, where the confusion is captured by a Sydney cabbie blocked in Elizabeth St: “Bastards. Terrorism in Sydney. My god.”
INSIDE the cafe, palms are pressed against glass.
The mood Kenny witnessed has dissolved in the theatrics of a movie scene, starring a villain who delivers bad lines for the next 17 hours.
Eighteen staff and customers have been ordered to put their hands up.
They have been told to lie down. There are screams and sobs. Someone vomits.
The man with the bandana and the shotgun wants to be called “the brother”.
He says he is from the Islamic State. He says he has bombs.
Man Haron Monis is doing what he has done since he arrived in Australia in 1996.
As a proclaimed IS extremist, he is pretending to be something he is not: until recently, before the most unlikely of conversions, he was a Shi’a – not Sunni — Muslim.
He has terrorised before, by words and deeds, though not like this.
He has chosen an unusually nice grouping of people to menace.
John O’Brien, the 82-year-old, is on his annual ritual of a coffee after his eye check-up upstairs. Three lawyers, including Katrina Dawson and her pregnant colleague Julie Taylor are catching up.
Dawson is indulging a daily routine in being here: she had asked along another friend this morning, but she had missed the call.
Among four Westpac people is the Indian father, Viswakanath Ankireddy, who would ring his wife during the crisis and his colleague, Puspendu Ghosh, still abuzz from a recent skydive. Selina Win Pe is with them to discuss IT issues: soon, under threat of a gun, she will be making demands of a prime minister.
The cafe staffers, their fellow prisoners, share a genuine camaraderie that defies many workplaces.
Tori Johnson, 34, is the sort of manager who sticks his tongue out in Christmas Party photos.
He is from a close-knit family: he hopes to one day marry his partner of 14 years, Thomas Zinn.
The staff share qualities with their customers that Monis can not claim.
They laugh in their spare time. They love. They have much to give and stand to be missed.
They belong on the outside. Monis, it subsequently seems, has never belonged.
Monis has a plan.
His impact is almost Dystopian. The streets are emptied and barricades rise. Trains are stopped and offices are evacuated.
The Martin Place Christmas tree suddenly soars like a relic from another era.
Elly Chen, normally a smiley 22-year-old, is working only her sixth day at the cafe.
She holds up a black flag with white Arabic text to the window, directly behind the cafe company’s Christmas message.
It is an opening shot in Monis’ message which, like all of Monis’ messages, runs foul of logic.
And there is a lag, almost as if the world is granted time to process events.
For hours, no one is saying what is going on. Monis wants to speak to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He wants his siege to be announced as an attack by ISIS.
He orders an ISIS flag delivered. He has hostages deliver these messages to news outlets from about noon.
It’s still unclear how soon dialogue is established with police negotiators.
O’BRIEN has a headache when he spots his chance.
It’s maybe five hours since he would have left of his own accord, perhaps for a hit of his beloved tennis.
He, along with lawyer Stefan Balafoutis, has been allowed to go to the toilet.
They spot a green button at the bottom of a glass door and wonder if the button will open the door. They discover it does.
The cameras track their first uncertain steps on the street, driven by an overwhelming mix of relief and adrenaline, while TV commentators fumble for the right verb — release or escape?
Chen’s expression captures the same anguish and fear when she spills into the street soon afterwards.
She has followed colleague Paolo Vassallo, and precedes Bae Jie-Un.
Monis is enraged by the escapes. He speaks of “an eye for an eye”. None of his demands have been met.
What would have followed had they been — he promised limited releases of hostages for each — is unclear.
Jarrod Hoffman is one of several hostages ordered to spread Monis’ gospel.
It is probably Hoffman, a 19-year-old student, who rings 2GB’s Ray Hadley.
Hadley reports hearing a Middle-Eastern Australian voice giving instructions in the background.
More calls are later made to the Daily Telegraph and TV stations.
Hoffman explains that he is on speaker and that he has a gun pointed to his head. “If someone else runs, someone dies,” Hoffman explains.
Later in the day, Monis orders hostages to record video messages for media organisations.
They are sinister viewing. The hostages speak of “we”, as if they are willing.
Some look more nervous than others. Taylor is businesslike: “We are here with … ummm our brother, who has asked for three simple things, and the first is that Tony Abbott calls him, live in the media, to have a short conversation. . . we can’t understand why that hasn’t happened.”
Like Taylor, she is a very successful person, a Westpac executive and fitness business owner. Yet no one inside the cafe can argue against Monis, a nobody in the outside world.
Onlookers feel surges of futility.
Yet only the hostages burn with the violation of being manipulated as pawns. Only they can properly express the growing fear reflected in increasingly tense messages.
“Dear friends and family…” Mikhael’s Facebook message reads.
“The man who is keeping us hostage has asked for small and simple requests and none have been met. He is now threatening to start killing us.”
Such communications are unprecedented, at least in Australia.
They are a product of a new age of technology and terror. Media outlets mostly heed police bans and do not publish or broadcast Monis’ messages.
Yet Monis grabs some underground traction. He resorts to YouTube and these video messages are said to spread.
The hostages’ families, meanwhile, are fretting.
“Please do not share or spread any messages released by the hostages as the terrorist is using them as a means of communication,” writes Mikhael’s niece. “This could put my aunty and the others in grave danger.”
Another hostage, Fiona Ma, uses Facebook as a source of hope. She has been posting and reading messages throughout the day, prompting this latter message: “I’m getting your messages everyone! Thank-you you beautiful souls…Guys I love each and everyone of you.”
OVER 17 hours, Monis does not get what he wants.
Instead, he muddles and confounds.
In doing so, like in his past, he inspires others to rise above his “antics” — as one acquaintance puts it — and seek to overcome the hurt he inflicts.
The hostages have a world’s prayers. It isn’t enough, not on this battleground, not even with hundreds of heavily armed cops just metres away. Monis has an unfair advantage. He has unpredictability — and his gun.
His skittishness grows later in the day. He paces and herds the hostages from one end to the other — this followed rotations when hostages held their hands on the windows.
He shouts and uses Louisa Hope, an MS sufferer with a walking stick as a “shield”. Later, Monis still grips her as he started to tire, despite the protests of her 68-year-old mother, Robyn.
The refusals of her and O’Brien to yield to an armed crazy man’s wishes sound like the makings of folklore.
O’Brien has refused to hold Monis’ flag or lie on the floor for him. Monis, according to a report in The Australian, leaves him alone after this.
It is many hours after O’Brien has gone.
Australia has gone to sleep, knowing the police will wait it out. It is about 2am, and fear and exhaustion are major factors.
The next 15 minutes stand to be forensically analysed in months ahead. For now, we must rely on witness accounts and unofficial sources.
We know that a plot has been hatched after Monis says “it will be in the morning”.
Comic book fan Joel Herat, 21, is a ringleader. A group of hostages figure that death will follow inaction.
A single shot rings out at 2.04am. It is said that the bullet slams into a door or the ceiling. Is it a warning shot aimed at dissuading those hostages who soon appear, arms raised, in the street? Herat shepherds a pregnant 30-year-old Taylor before making his own exit.
The hostages have smashed a side-door lock to escape. Ankireddy’s father sees his son’s escape on Indian TV.
The cafe is darkened. It’s said that Johnson now tackles Monis and tries to grab his gun. It makes sense that Johnson would try to free his fellow hostages.
Such an act sounds true to his nature.
One newspaper report says that Johnson is beaten around the head before being killed with a head shot by Monis’ gun.
This may be the 2.13am shot that is played again and again the next day, the shot that leads a technical support sniper, perched at a Channel 7 window opposite, to say into his microphone: “Hostage down. Window two.”
What follows is officially known as the “emergency action plan”. Police in night goggles break in, setting off what looks and sounds like an indoor fireworks display. Stun grenades echo. Dozens of rounds are fired.
The outburst is timed at 34 seconds. When it ends an alarm rings and there is screaming. Monis is dead.
His shield Louisa Hope is shot in the foot, her mother Robyn in the shoulder.
Katrina Dawson is fatally wounded. Her loss, like Johnson’s, is inexplicable, and the floral memorial for their loss will lend itself to easy comparisons with Princess Diana’s death in 1997. It will seem so right that Johnson loved flowers.
It will seem so wrong that Dawson’s children, aged eight, five and three, wake the next morning to the worst news.
According to Channel 7, Monis greets the rush of officers with a lament: “Look what you’ve made me do.”
AS epitaphs go, Monis’ final words sound about right.
They befit a predator long practised in the role of playing the victim. They also raise questions about Monis’ goals. The only obvious thread in his public history, besides its oddness, lies in his drives. His religious and moral principles hold no coherence. His need for attention, however, is a constant. Publicity for Monis has never been a byproduct so much as an outcome.
In upturning his past in the days after his death, the thoughts of one of his previous victims jump out.
Joan Senger once received a letter from Monis. Her son, Craig, an Australian trade official, had been killed in the 2009 Jakarta terror bombing.
Monis’ words had been hurtful and insulting. Speaking in 2013, Mrs Senger appears to have figured out Monis long before he stopped a city with a gun.
“I just don’t think he thinks like normal people think,” she said.
Unpredictable. Unhinged. Paranoid. These terms are used by those who knew Monis best. He was well-known to others as the sick sod who had linked fallen soldiers and bushfire victims to obscure religious scriptures.
He had been seeking sympathy since he first chained himself to a pole at the NSW Parliament House in 2000, when he demanded his family be brought from Iran and introduced himself as “Ayatollah”.
Those who knew him knew he played at roles. He was the “sham sheikh”.
He was the “peace activist”. Yet his performances served to mask the villain within. Monis tended to be scorned rather than feared, even though his history is potted with extreme violence and misogyny
Update 10.50AM 16/12/14
THE manager of the Lindt cafe who was fatally shot in the Martin Place siege is being praised as a hero, responsible for allowing others trapped in the cafe to escape.
It is understood the cafe manager decided to take action when the hostage-taker begun to doze off after the siege had been ongoing for 17 hours.
He lunged at the gunman’s weapon, enabling others to flee.
The second hostage killed has been identified as Katrina Dawson, 38. The mother-of-three is the sister of well known Sydney lawyer Sandy Dawson.
Ms Dawson was tragically killed trying to defend her pregnant friend, AAP reports.
Sydney siege: Two hostages and gunman dead after heavily armed police storm Lindt cafe in Martin Place
About 2:10am (AEDT) there was a confrontation between police and self-styled Iranian cleric Man Haron Monis, who had taken 17 people hostage inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Place on Monday morning.
Police said shots were fired and as a result, the 50-year-old gunman was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.
It is not clear if the two hostages who died, a man aged 34 and a woman aged 38, were shot by the gunman or killed in the crossfire.
Monis, who was granted political asylum in Australia, took staff and customers in the cafe hostage shortly before 10:00am (AEDT) on Monday.
He was on bail for a string of violent offences, including being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.
Monis was also facing more than 40 sexual and indecent assault charges and had a conviction for sending offensive letters to families of deceased Australian soldiers.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott issued a statement commending the “courage and professionalism” of the police and other emergency services involved.
“Australians awoke to the news this morning that the siege in Martin Place has ended,” he said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two deceased hostages, the wounded and the other hostages.”
This morning, NSW Premier Mike Baird addressed a media conference and said: “I come before you with the heaviest of hearts. Unbelievably overnight, we have lost some of our own in an attack we never thought we would see here in our city.
“In the past 24 hours, this city has been shaken by a tragedy that none of us could have ever imagined. The values we held dear yesterday we hold dear today. They are the values of freedom, democracy, and harmony.
“These defined us yesterday, they will define us today, they will define us tomorrow. Our first thoughts and prayers this morning are with the innocent victims of this horrendous, vicious attack.”
Following the confrontation, two women were also taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while a male police officer is in a non life-threatening condition after a gunshot wound to his face.
The police operation has concluded and the investigation into the entire incident will be overseen by the Professional Standards Command, a police statement said.
“All information will be provided to the coroner who will determine the cause of, and make any findings about, the events leading to the deaths,” the statement said.
Loud explosions and yelling could be heard from near the cafe at about 2:00am (AEDT) before officers rushed inside.
Just before police stormed the building, at least five hostages came running from the cafe with their hands up and one man lay down on the floor as police patted him down.
Minutes later what appeared to be gunfire and explosions could be heard.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the situation changed suddenly inside the cafe, allowing more of the hostages to escape.
Police then made the quick decision to put their emergency action plan into place and they moved inside the building.
Thanking all the officers involved in the siege, Commissioner Scipione said: “I want to point out they have saved lives, they have saved many lives.”
He said of the hostages: “I can only imagine the terror that they’ve been through. They are very brave people who in many cases were buying a cup of coffee and they got caught up in this dreadful affair.
“We should reflect on their courage, the courage that they displayed during the many hours in that room.”
He said it was an isolated incident and urged: “Do not let this sort of incident bring about any loss of confidence of working or visiting our city.
“It was the act of an individual. This should never destroy or change the way of our life.”
Soon after police entered the cafe, paramedic crews who had been stationed at the scene throughout the day were seen carrying people out of the building on stretchers, and one patient could be seen being resuscitated.
ABC reporter Siobhan Heanue said there were two volleys of gunfire and loud explosions, in the middle of which screams could be heard.
“The sound ricocheted throughout the tall buildings around the area… and hostages started pouring out of the building,” she said.
“Some running, some able to walk, some with their hands up, and some being carried by ambulance staff.”
An exclusion zone around Martin Place remains, with roads still closed, but the police presence has significantly diminished.
The ABC’s Nick Dole said police were working to secure the scene.
“Exactly what is going on inside we don’t know but we have seen evidence that perhaps police from the bomb squad would be in there,” he said.
“So police are working through the Lindt cafe to at least make it safe for investigators to go through.
“We’ve seen a robot – what looks like a police robot.
“Police are working very hard to make the crime scene safe so the investigation can continue.”
Hostages have been taken to a number of hospitals in the city.
Shortly after Monis locked the hostages inside the cafe, some were seen with their hands up while others were made to hold a black flag with Arabic writing against a window.
Heavily armed police officers took up positions in the pedestrian area, which was cleared for several blocks.
Several hours later, at about 4:00pm, two men ran from a front door of the cafe while a man wearing a Lindt apron came out of a side door.
About an hour later two women who worked at the cafe ran from the building.
Martin Place Cafe Siege: Man Haron Monis named as gunman
DECEMBER 16, 2014
THE man who held several people hostage in a Sydney cafe for over 18 hours is a self-styled ‘sheik’ with a long history of run-ins with law enforcement.
Man Haron Monis, 50, is believed to have been killed when police stormed the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place in a hail of gunfire shortly after 2am this morning.
Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron and Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, was on bail on a charge of accessory to murder, relating to the death of his ex-wife, who was allegedly stabbed and set alight in a stairwell of her Sydney apartment complex last year.
Monis’s current partner has been charged with murder over the incident.
On granting bail, Magistrate Darryl Pearce saying the Crown’s noted the case against Monis was weak.
In March this year he was charged with more than 50 sexual offences including the 2002 sexual assault of a young woman which was allegedly carried out under the guise of ‘spiritual healing’.
His victim, 27 at the time, allegedly saw an advertisement for ‘spiritual consultation’ in a local newspaper and contacted him.
He told her he was an expert in astrology, numerology, meditation and black magic and advised her to visit his clinic.
Monis arrived in Australia as a refugee from Iran in 1996 and first became known to the public when he was charged with sending offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers who had died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the letters Monis called one Australian Digger ‘the son to a dirty pig, and to a dirty animal’, and urged the Diggers’ families to call on the government to pull troops out of Afghanistan.
In court Monis claimed he was a ‘peace activist’ and that his rights to free speech were being trampled.
It’s believed Monis lost a High Court appeal against his conviction just last Friday — an event which may have precipitated his decision to stage the Sydney siege.
Shortly before 9.45am yesterday morning Monis entered the Lindt cafe in the heart of Sydney, armed with a sawn-off shotgun and taking up to 20 hostages, several of whom managed to escape yesterday.
After a prolonged period of silence overnight, several hostages desperately fled the cafe before police stormed in shortly later.
Live images of the ensuing firefight were beamed around the world as one loud blast, possibly from Monis’s shotgun, was heard. It was followed by dozens of shots from automatic weapons and flashes from the tactical officers’ flash grenades.
Several ambulances rushed an unknown number of people to hospital as medical teams performed CPR on people in Martin Place. One police officer was seen with blood rushing from his head.
It’s believed three people, including Monis, have died as a result of the firefight.
A man is holding several people hostage at Martin Place cafe
- 13 minutes ago December 15, 2014
- As many as 30 people being held hostage at Lindt cafe
- Police say at least one gunman involved
- Incident not being treated as terrorism yet
- Motivation of gunman unknown – but police have finally spoken directly with him
- PM Tony Abbott urges calm: “The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people.”
HOSTAGES have emerged from the Lindt Cafe in central Sydney where they have been held by a gunman since just before 10am this morning.
Five people have now left the cafe which has been at the centre of a hostage crisis that has paralysed central Sydney and shocked Australia.
Their escape comes after NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn confirmed hostage negotiators were now speaking directly with the gunman.
“Police negotiators have had contact and will continue to have contact,” she said.
Two female Lindt employees ran from the building just before 5pm. Three other hostages, all men, ran from the cafe earlier this afternoon and are now speaking with police.
It was not immediately clear if any of the hostages were released or if they had escaped.
Hostages inside the café have spoken to media outlets. Two hostages have spoken to Sydney radio station 2GB while Ten News is reporting that they have also spoken to two hostages.
Two of the first hostages to get away came out of the front door while the third came out of a fire door. All had their arms raised in the air.
Dramatic television images showed the terrified hostages running free from the buiding and being shielded by heavily armed police.
One was a man in a white shirt and blue jacket, another wore a white shirt, while the third was clearly the Lindt cafe worker dressed in black.
David Faktor, spokesman for St Vincent’s Hospital, told news.com.au that they have received “one male patient and he is in a satisfactory condition”. Mr Faktor would not comment on anything else in relation to the man’s condition but said “he is fine”.
The hospital is on standby for anything else that might eventuate from the siege.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed media tonight and praised police and security services for their work.
“I’ve received messages of support from a number of international leaders and I thank them for their encouragement on this difficult day. It has been a difficult day, it has tested us
He added that “like Australians in all situations, we have risen to the challenge”.
The five hostages escape followed reports that as many as 50 people being held by a gunman at the popular cafe. However, when asked this afternoon about the number of hostages NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said: “That sort of number does not equate to what we are assuming.”
At least one offender took hostages at the popular Lindt chocolate cafe, in Martin Place, just before 10am.
Some members of staff could be seen wearing their shop aprons and standing with their hands up at the windows. There is also a black and white flag being held up in a window. It is believed to be the Black Standard, a flag that has been hijacked by jihadists and Islamists.
Hostages have reportedly called Channel 9 news late this afternoon – the second time media outlets have been called by those inside the cafe.
It’s believed hostages have been forced to call the television network.
This morning at least two calls were made to 2GB host Ray Hadley. He later spoke to the mother of an 18-year-old apprentice plumber who texted his mother from inside the cafe.
When she asked him how he was he replied: “I’m okay Mum, I can’t talk”. She hasn’t heard anything since then.
Deputy Commissioner Burn said police had spoken with the gunman for the first time since the siege began.
Her information was that the remaining hostages hadn’t been harmed.
She said the gunman’s motivations were not known and it wouldn’t be helpful to “speculate”.
The incident has not been branded a terrorist attack yet, but police have confirmed they have “moved to a footing consistent with a terrorism event” in their response.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione earlier told reporters it remained a hostage situation “but we are ready to escalate if we need to”.
They did not have “direct contact” with the hostage-taker.
“We’re working through that – at this stage we’ve not got extensive communications … We are not dealing directly with him.”
It was not clear what the offender’s motivation was.
Lindt Australia CEO Steve Loane told news.com.au at the scene this morning he believed there are 40 to 50 people inside the cafe, including customers and staff.
Other reports are suggesting there may only be 13 hostages and police have since said they believe there to be fewer than 30 hostages.
Police handcuffed a man 200m from the cafe siege but a police statement has since clarified the arrest was unrelated to the siege.
The National Security Committee of Cabinet has met for briefings on the situation this morning.
At a press conference this morning Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government did not know whether the hostage situation was politically motivated.
“We don’t yet know the motivation of perpetrator, we don’t know whether it’s politically motivated although there are indications it could be,” he said.
“The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people… Australia is a peaceful, open and generous society and nothing should ever change that and that’s why I urge all Australians to today to go about their business as usual.”
Mr Abbott urged all Australians to go about their business as usual but if anyone noticed anything unusual they should call the National Security Hotline 1800 123 400.
He said that the ordinary business of government would go on and the Budget update would be released as planned.
NSW Premier Mike Baird said this afternoon: “We are being tested today in Sydney. The police is being tested, the public is being tested, but whatever the test …we will remain a democractic, civil society.
“There could be some disruption obviously, we are asking also to be patient … we will get through this.”
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed an “armed offender” was involved. Police were doing everything in their power to bring the situation to a “peaceful outcome”.
“We have a number of incidents that people believe are connected to the city events
a lot of people concerned when they see police vehicle drive down their street, (that area is involved). This is not the case.”
He said there were a number of officers on standby and was satisfied with the response so far. “It’s as good as you will get anywhere.”
In a statement earlier, Mr Abbott said he had also spoken with NSW Premier Mike Baird and “offered him all possible Commonwealth support and assistance”.
“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,” he said.
Mr Baird said his thoughts and prayers were with those affected.
“I’ve spoken to Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione & have full confidence NSW Police are working effectively to resolve the situation,” Mr Baird said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he had spoken with Mr Abbott this morning and offered him the Opposition’s full support.
“Our thoughts and prayers today are with the innocent people involved … (and) also with their families who are seeing this incredibly distressing situation unfold, along with the rest of Australia.
“Australians can be assured that we are one when it comes to keeping Australians safe.”
Earlier today, Sydney talkback show host Ray Hadley reportedly spoke to one of the hostages inside the cafe off air.
A spokesman for 2GB said Hadly spoke to someone who he believed was a hostage inside the cafe.
The radio presenter called the number more than once and passed the name and details onto the police.
The Sydney Opera House, which was evacuated earlier today, has cancelled tonights performances, while police have urged people to stay away from the central city tonight for their own safety.
International reaction to the crisis has been swift with Canadian PM Stephen Harper tweeting his support and US President Barack Obama being briefed on the situation at the White House.
Lindt Cafe released the following statement on their Facebook page.
“We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and kind support over the current situation at the Lindt Chocolate Café at Martin Place. 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. The matter is being dealt with by the authorities and we are waiting for any updates from them.”
Also on Facebook were pages supporting the gunman, including one called “Lindt cafe bombers supporters facebook page”. Facebook swiftly removed the page, and urged users to report any offending pages immediately for them to remove.
Police have set up an exclusion zone around the cafe in Martin Place.
A Lindt cafe worker who managed to get out of the building told Nine News: “Everyone was sitting down, the door was locked. There was one guy walking around with a hat and a beard.”
Channel 7 reported that a woman told police that she saw a man near the cafe at 9.44am carrying a blue sports bag with what she thought was a gun inside.
The chocolate shop is 30 or 40 metres from the Channel 7 offices so they have cameras trained on the building. Channel 7 was evacuated.
Martin Place is home to several prominent buildings, including NSW Premier Mike Baird’s office, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Westpac Bank and the Commonwealth Bank headquarters as well as the US embassy and the Seven Network. The Supreme Court, Sydney Hospital, State Library of NSW, and NSW parliament were also in lock-down.
The Sydney Opera House was also in lock-down for a short time as authorities enacted a cluster of security measures across the city.
The US Consulate has also been closed.
Seven reporter Chris Reason is currently on the corner of Philip and Hunter St where all five floors of Channel 7 staff were evacuated. He told news.com.au that he is with several hundred people from Seven and surrounding buildings.
He confirmed that police entered Channel 7 at 10am to use their building as a viewing point after the incident first happened at 9.44am.
At 10.20am the entire building was evacuated and the central hosting duties was transferred to Melbourne to broadcast out of there.
Police have erected a large black shield to cover the corner of the Lindt Store from view.
Mr Reason said: “It’s tense, people are obviously concerned for the people inside. During the initial minutes when the evacuation happened there was, of course, a lot of concern, a lot of anguish from some staff. But nobody resisted, we all followed police orders. Right now, outside the building there is a mix of curiosity and concern and hope that the people inside get out OK.”
Currently there are at least 100 police and tactical units stationed in Martin Place
“I was at a cafe right next to the Lindt Store when I noticed people suddenly running towards the building and looking in. At 9.45 I sort of approached and realised what was happening. At first we thought it was an armed holdup because the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) is next door and there were armoured vehicles outside. When we saw the hostages against the windows holding up the flags it was quickly apparent that this was severely urgent.”
When asked whether he thought why the men may have chosen Martin Place, he said: “It’s hard to tell, as we saw in the terror raids in September, Martin Place would be a target. It might not be iconic Sydney location but it is deeply symbolic, on top of our building (Seven) is the State Government, the treasurer the minister, beside it is the financial heart of Sydney with the reserve bank and right in the centre is the cenotaph and ANZAC memorial so it ticks so many boxes when trying to make a political statement.”
There are State Government agencies in the same building and police have shut down traffic in a wide perimeter surrounding the incident. Surrounding buildings are also in lockdown.
There is no confirmation yet whether this is a terrorist attack.
A police statement confirmed that they were dealing with an armed incident and specialist officers were attempting to make contact those inside a cafe.
“Some 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,” the statement said.
“Police urge members of the public to remain calm and note that an appropriate police presence is in place.
Elsewhere in Australia, security has reportedly been increased at the Gabba ahead of the cricket and the Lindt Cafe in Melbourne has been closed with police patrolling the streets outside.
The Martin Place train station is shut and trains and buses around the area are being diverted or stopped, including trains between Bondi Junction and Central. Roads are blocked.
A Transport for Sydney spokeswoman told news.com.au that conditions were still changing and they would follow directions from police.
“This is chilling,” said The Morning Show host Kylie Gillies of the scene as she watched on with host Larry Emdur from the Channel 7 news studios. The duo are now off air.
Sydney siege: Gunman takes hostages in Lindt cafe
At least one gunman has taken several people hostage at a cafe in the Australian city of Sydney.
Pictures on Australian television show at least three people with their hands up against a window, and a black flag with Arabic writing.
Hundreds of armed police have sealed off Martin Place in Sydney’s central business district.
New South Wales police have asked people to avoid the area.
An Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporter said that gunfire had been heard at the scene, the Lindt chocolate cafe – but this has not been confirmed.
No injuries have been reported from the incident, according to a police spokesperson.
At the scene: Wendy Frew, BBC Australia Editor Online
Martin Place is a public pedestrian thoroughfare through the heart of Sydney, joining its parliamentary, legal and retail districts.
It is full of media, members of the public and the police, with what appear to be anxious colleagues of people trapped inside the building, waiting for news. Several surrounding blocks are cordoned off.
Police are at this stage not giving media briefings at the site, there are dozens of police cards have arrived at the scene – with more continuing to come.
Police have also said that they are dealing with an “incident” at the Sydney Opera House which has been evacuated.
Local media are reporting that a suspicious package was found there on Monday, though it was unclear whether it was connected to the Martin Place incident.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the Martin Place incident as “deeply concerning”.
“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,” he said in a statement.
A National Security Committee of Cabinet has been convened for Monday morning, the PM’s office said.
Australia has been facing a growing terror threat in recent months, in part connected to the fight against the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq.
In September, the largest anti-terror raids in Australian history were carried out in Sydney and Brisbane after intelligence emerged that people were planning to carry out random attacks on Australian soil.
Only one person was charged with terror offences.
Anti-terror legislation was passed in October, which critics said was too severe.
Mr Abbott has said the threat meant “the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift”.
About 70 Australians are believed to be fighting in the Middle East while another 20 have returned home.
Australia recently introduced tough legislation to combat the threat from returned fighters
The Lindt Cafe is located in a plaza in the heart of the city’s financial and shopping district that is usually packed with shoppers at this time of year.
It is home to the state premier’s office and the headquarters of two of the nation’s largest banks.
The state parliament house is also only a few streets away.
The Daily Telegraph
December 15, 2014
- 12 hostages thought to be held
- Public transport shut down between Central and Bondi
- Channel 7 offices evacuated
It is believed there are 12 hostages in the store and an ISIS flag has been placed in the window.
Martin Place is the main financial area of the Sydney CBD.
Public transport between Central and Bondi Junction has been stopped.
Buses are diverting away from Elizabeth St and Hunter St.
There are various road closures in place and motorists are advised to stay away from the area.
In September Federal Police made a host of arrests after allegedly uncovering a plot to abduct a random Australian and execute them by beheading in a public place, possibly Martin Place and post the act on social media.
Just before 10am it is believed an attempted robbery was taking place when the offender then took a number of hostages inside the Lindt Chocolate shop.
The area has been cordoned off and police are urging people to stay away.
Police do not know how many hostages are in the shop or what the offender is armed with.
The Lindt shop is usually very busy with four or five staff at this time.
More to come.