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Islamic extremist holds several people hostage at Sydney cafe

Several people were on Monday taken hostage at a cafe in Sydney apparently by at least one Islamic State gunman, media reports said.


Islamic extremist holds several people hostage at Sydney cafe

Sydney: Several people were on Monday taken hostage at a cafe in Sydney apparently by at least one Islamist militant with a gun, media reports said.

At least three people could be seen through the windows of the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Martin Place, a busy tourist and shopping district in central Sydney, with their hands raised, state-run ABC television reported.

An Islamic flag was also reportedly seen hanging in the window of the cafe. Witnesses claimed hearing loud bangs that sounded like gun shots, the TV channel reported.

Hundreds of armed police have sealed off Martin Place and urged people to avoid the area. Dozens of police cars are at the scene and one police officer has drawn his gun.

Following the siege, Australian PM Tony Abbott tweeted: "The incident in Martin Place is obviously deeply concerning but all Australians should be reassured...that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough & professional manner."


The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement that read:

"New South Wales Police and the Australian Federal Police are currently responding to a reported hostage-taking incident in Martin Place in Sydney.

I have spoken with NSW Premier Mike Baird and offered him all possible Commonwealth support and assistance.

The National Security Committee of Cabinet has also convened for briefings on the situation.

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.

We will provide regular updates as further information becomes available."


Later on, addressing a press conference PM Abbott said, "We don't know whether this is politically motivated. We have to appreciate that even in a society such as ours, there are people who would wish to do us harm...the whole point is to scare people. Australia is a peaceful, open and generous society and nothing should ever change that. If anyone does have any suspicions, there is the national security hot-line, which I would urge them to call."

Major landmarks in the city such as the Sydney Opera House have been evacuated. Newsroom of Channel Seven, located opposite the cafe has also been cleared.

Streets have been shut in the area and people have been advised to stay away by the authorities.

"We raced to the window and saw the shocking and chilling sight of people putting their hands up against the panes of glass at the cafe," the channel's producer, Patrick Byrne, was quoted as saying.

"This was just extraordinary. Then, as we were looking wondering what was going on, it seemed to be like an armed hold-up, more police arrived at Martin Place... The area was cleared. People were kept back," he said.

"It was then that gasps went through the newsroom as an ISIS flag was put up against one of the window panes," he added.

The New South Wales police informs that cops are  trying to establish contact with the hostage-taker (or takers).

(With Agency Inputs)

From Zee News

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