A tense situation is unfolding in Australia‘s most populous city involving a gunman and several hostages. Inside a cafe in Sydney, an Iranian man is barricaded inside the establishment as police negotiate with him from the outside.
Late Sunday (Dec. 14) night, news of the hostage taking broke across several outlets as details began to emerge. Authorities reported that a man took visitors of the Lindt Chocolate Shop and Cafe hostage and forced some of them to stand in front of the windows holding a black flag displaying a prominent Muslim saying regarding devotion to the faith. Five persons who escaped the cafe say the man demanded an ISIS/ISIL flag and to speak with Australian prime minister Tony Abbot.
Earlier Monday (Dec. 15) morning, BBC News reported on the identity of the lone gunman after it was thought that several Islamist extremists might have been involved.
The gunman holding people hostage in a Sydney cafe has been identified as an Iranian refugee who was on bail facing a number of charges.
Man Haron Monis, who received political asylum in Australia in 1996, was described by his former lawyer as an isolated figure.
Central Sydney is in lockdown as police surround the cafe, continuing negotiations with the gunman.
Several more hostages are said to have escaped after five got out earlier.
Police have not been able to determine how many hostages are inside the cafe, but have been able to note that three hostages have been used by Monis to communicate demands.
Police in the region are aware of Monis, who refers to himself as a Muslim cleric. He is currently on bail for being an accessory to the murder of his former wife and faces more than 40 sexual and indecent assault charges. Monis has also been convicted of sending offensive letters to the families of fallen Australian soldiers.
Update: According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the gunman and two hostages are reportedly dead after police stormed the cafe. A total of 17 hostages were taken by Monis as written by the publication. The slain hostages were a man and a woman, aged 34 and 38 respectively. Three other hostages are said to be in serious condition.
Photo: BBC News