Sydney siege: Hostages held in central cafe

Security move people in Martin Place (15 Dec 2014)BBC News

At least one gunman has taken several people hostage at a cafe in the centre of the Australian city of Sydney.

Pictures on Australian television have shown 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 the normally busy Martin Place in Sydney’s central business district.  

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the 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 had been convened for Monday morning, the PM’s office said.

Security move people in Martin Place (15 Dec 2014)Streets have been closed around the building and people moved out of the area

New South Wales police have asked people to avoid the area and to stay away from windows.

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.

Women leave offices near Martin Place, SydneyMany people were arriving at work as the area was shut down

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.

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At the scene: Wendy Frew, BBC Australia Editor Online

People wait in Martin Place Colleagues of people inside the building are waiting outside for new

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 – dozens of police cars have arrived at the scene, with more continuing to come.

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Terror threat

Police cordon around Martin Place There is a heavy police presence in the heart of Sydney
Evacuated people gather in Hyde Park, SydneyPeople were evacuated from office buildings have gathered in nearby Hyde Park

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.

About 70 Australians are believed to be fighting in the Middle East while another 20 have returned home.

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”.

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.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-30473983

16 thoughts on “Sydney siege: Hostages held in central cafe

    1. Good catch, Angel. It had only been up for 23 mins. on Yahoo news when I copied the link, but you already had it up, Lois Lane.

  1. “Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the incident as “deeply concerning”.

    wow…

    …his sincere, heartfelt anguish is truly overwhelming.

    Whatever transpires, this will be used to pass more laws… for the express benefit & safety of the ‘citizens’, naturally.

  2. F A K E

    police that dont even know you dont hold a rifle by the mag,
    they must have hired every Australian actor short of mel gibson for this one!!!

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