Photo credit: Channel 7 / Twitter
By Lily Dane – The Daily Sheeple
Between 13 – 50 hostages are being held by armed men in a siege in a cafe in Sydney, Australia.
ABC News Live Stream:
From The Telegraph UK:
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.
Heavily armed police have surrounded the cafe. So far, it is believed that there is only one gunman, but reports are conflicting and details still are unclear.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the only incident going on in the area.
From BBC News:
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.
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.
We will update this story as it develops.
We have reports of further buildings being evacuated. We are being cautious in our reporting so we will not go into any further detail but other buildings in the area have been evacuated throughout the morning.
The Sydney Opera House, which is about a kilometre and a half from Martin Place, has been evacuated. It is not clear why and there are conflicting reports about the reasons. (source)
- Heavily armed police have taken up position around the Lindt cafe in central Sydney
- Hostages have been seen inside the cafe with their hands in the air
- Black flag with white Arabic writing reading “There is no God but Allah” and “Mohammed is the messenger of God” waved behind the hostages
- Martin Place and Sydney Opera House have been evacuated
- National Security Committee of Cabinet has convened; Prime Minister Tony Abbott described incident as “deeply concerning” and offered NSW all assistance possible. (from ABC News)
Update 3, from The Guardian:
We are almost three hours into the siege and there is a lot of conflicting reports and speculation. Here is a brief rundown of what we actually do know:
- Customers and staff at Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney, were taken hostage about 9.45am. There are varying reports on the number of hostages but four have been sighted in camera footage. They were made to stand up against the windows with their hands raised.
- There is at least one gunman.
- A black flag with white writing was put in the window of the cafe. It is not an Islamic State flag. The flag appears to bear the Shahada, an Islamic creed which reads: “There is no god but the God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It’s can be a benign symbol and appears across the Islamic world, including on the Saudi Arabian flag. But it has also been embraced by jihadi groups such as Jabhat Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate currently fighting in Syria.
- The prime minister, Tony Abbott, confirmed the national security committee of cabinet has convened for briefings.
- Buildings in the area have been evacuated, as has the Sydney Opera House though it has not been confirmed why the Opera House has been evacuated.
- The prime minister will address media soon.
Earlier in the morning, police apparently arrested a man after a counterrorism raid in a Sydney suburb.
“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,” reports The Telegraph.
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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”