Cafe manager killed while wrestling gun from madman

  • Police stormed cafe at 2.06am Sydney time on Tuesday
  • Three are confirmed dead, including the gunman and two hostages.
  • Siege is declared to be over
  • 17 hostages in total were held inside the cafe
  • Of those, only six have not been taken to hospital
  • A hostage from the Sunshine Coast is safe
  • Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place siege began on Monday, at 9.44AM NSW time.
  • All times are in Queensland time, unless otherwise indicated




THREE are dead, including a crazed gunman and two hostages, a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman.

There were no explosives found inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place, where 17 were held against their will.

Of those, six were uninjured -- all others were taken to hospital. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

Police stormed the Lindt Cafe about 2am NSW time, responding to gunshots heard from inside. 

Authorities tossed flash grenades into the cafe and entered, ultimately ending the siege.

Now the investigations begin.






Lindt Chocolate Cafe manager Tori Johnson was killed during the siege, with unconfirmed reports suggesting he attempted to wrestle the gun from Man Haron Monis.
Lindt Chocolate Cafe manager Tori Johnson was killed during the siege, with unconfirmed reports suggesting he attempted to wrestle the gun from Man Haron Monis.

THE second hostage killed during the final hours of the siege that kept 17 people captive in Sydney's Lindt Chocolate Cafe, lost his life trying to disarm his captor.

The ABC is reporting that Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson was shot as he tried to take the weapon of Man Haron Monis after 16 hours under threat.

In a statement, Tori's family wrote they would carry on the memory of their heroic son, also paying tribute to barrister Katrina Dawson who was also killed in the siege.

"We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this Earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for," the statement said.

"We feel heartfelt sorrow for the family of Katrina Dawson."

Lindt Australia also paid tribute to Tori, describing him as a "perfectionist" with a passion.


[10.38AM] Siege aftermath: Four hospitalised with gunshot wounds

THREE women and one man are in hospital, each recovering from gunshot wounds they suffered as police stormed the cafe where hostages had been imprisoned for 16 hours.

Two more women, both pregnant, are stable but under observation by hospital staff.

A 39-year-old police officer has been treated and released after suffering a minor gunshot wound to the head.

In a press conference, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said she has spoken to the injured officer who is "going well under the circumstances".

She said police were now working to help the survivors of the hostage crisis.

"We are doing everything we can to assist the victims and those involved in the Martin Place incident," he said.

"We have the best investigators from the Homicide Squad working on this. We will be in constant contact with the Coroner.

"A lot of people are very tired and emotional at the moment.

"This will take time for us to piece together what happened."


The full list includes:

A 75-year-old woman shot in the shoulder (stable)

A 52-year-old woman shot in the foot (stable)

A 43-year-old woman shot in the leg.(stable)

A 39-year-old male police officer with minor with gunshot wound to the face, who has been released.

Two women, 30 and 35, both pregnant and stable.

Opposition Bill Shorten has held a press conference calling for a permanent memorial at Martin Place to honour those hostages who lost their lives in the 16-hour siege.

Those killed include barrister Katrina Dawson, 38 and Tori Johnson, 34.

Johnson is understood to have been shot dead after he attempted to wrest the weapon from gunman Man Haron Monis in the moments before the siege was ended by the rush of heavily armed police officers.

"Hundreds of Sydneysiders have already laid flowers at the scene this morning," Mr Shorten said.

"I hope in time there can be a permanent memorial to the victims of this horrific event.

"There is still a lot to learn about why this happened and indeed what happened.

"We need to also learn how we can ensure that this doesn't happen again."

As police and politicians pay tribute to those held hostage and the teams that freed them, others are showing their grief by laying flowers at Martin Place.

Lindt Chocolate Australia has also released a statement following the end of the siege.


[8.54AM] VIDEO: Siege gunman has hostages make bizarre demands

BIZARRE videos filmed during the siege have been published online, showing hostages making demands on behalf of captor Man Haron Monis.

In the footage, released on LiveLeak, the hostages make a list of demands including that politicians acknowledge that Australia is "under attack" by the Islamic State and that the Prime Minister contact Monis on a "live feed".

In exchange for doing these things, the hostages say Monis would have released some of them.

The hostage also warns there are bombs planted around Sydney, so demands should be met as soon as possible.

The footage was reportedly distributed to major media outlets during the siege on Monday but all refused to run it, following advice from authorities.

Monis was killed about 2am Sydney time on Tuesday as police stormed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe, following a 16-hour siege.

Commissioner Andrew Scipione this morning walked through Martin Place, paying tribute to all those held hostage.

He addressed the media briefly.

See video below:



[8.39AM] Sydney Barrister and mother of two killed during Sydney siege.

BARRISTER and mother-of-two Katrina Dawson has been confirmed as one of hostages killed during the 16-hour Sydney siege that paralysed central Sydney.

Ms Dawson, 38 -- considered a "rising star" at her firm -- was declared dead after being taken to hospital following volleys of gunfire inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Place.

Sydney Morning Herald reports Ms Dawson has three children under 10, two girls and a boy.

Her youngest child, a girl, is four years old.

  Flags are flying at half mast as Australia mourns the loss of the two killed in the senseless hostage crisis that was ended by police using force early this morning, including those on Sydney Harbour Bridge.


[8.15AM] Sunshine Coast father watches as daughter freed from Sydney hostage crisis

WHILE Australia was watching a hostage crisis unfolded in Sydney's Martin Place, Rob Denny was tortured by the knowledge that his daughter Harriette was in its midst.

On live television, he saw his Harriette -- a barista at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe -- walk safely into the care of emergency services after police stormed the shopfront.

"I saw her on TV running out of the building at 2am," he said.

Read the full story here: Coast father's relief as daughter freed from Sydney siege


Harriette Denny is released from the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place where she had been kept hostage for 16 hours
Harriette Denny is released from the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place where she had been kept hostage for 16 hours



[7.40AM] Tony Abbott addresses the nation

Appearing on television this morning, the Prime Minister has paid tribute to the bravery of hostages and the work of those who rescued them.

"There is nothing more Australian than dropping in at the local cafe for a morning coffee and it's tragic beyond words that people going about their everyday business should have been caught up in such a horrific incident"

He described gunman Man Haron Monis as having "a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability".

"He sought to cloak his actions with the symbolism of the ISIL death cult.

"Tragically, there are people in our community ready to engage in politically motivated violence.

He said Australians should be confident that our police are capable of handling such threats.

"These events do demonstrate that even a country as free, as open, as generous and as safe as ours is vulnerable to acts of politically motivated violence but they also remind us that Australia and Australians are resilient and we are ready to respond."

Mr Abbott said there were "lessons to be learned" from the incident, which will now be thoroughly examined.


[7.28AM] Prime Minister Tony Abbott offers 'thoughts and prayers'


AHEAD of his press conference due this morning, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has offered the nations "thoughts and prayers" to the families of those two hostages killed in the Martin Place siege.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two deceased hostages, the wounded and the other hostages."

"I commend the courage and professionalism of the New South Wales Police and other emergency services involved."

He has spoken to the New South Wales Premier Mike Baird, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin after the siege ended.

The National Security Committee of Cabinet will meet shortly to review the situation, he said.


[4.50AM] NSW Premier and Police Commissioner call for Sydney to 'come together'

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione are now urging Sydney to come together, to shake themselves out of the fear that Man Haron Monis attempted to sow in their city.

This was a "vicious, horrendous attack that has taken place in the heart of our city".

"Our first thoughts and prayers this morning are with the innocent victims of this horrendous, vicious attack," Mr Baird said.

"I want to say to their family and friends that everyone in New South Wales stands besides you.

"They stand beside you today, they stand beside you tomorrow, they will stand beside you forever."

In the past 24 hours, Mr Baird said police "saved many, many lives" and in the process, risked their own.

He urged Sydney to return to business as usual, to provide support to those who now walk free after their 16-hour ordeal, but most of all, Mr Baird wants NSW to unite.

"I say to everyone in NSW, today we must come together like never before."

"We are stronger together. "We will get through this.

"But the events that we have seen have shaken us, but they do not dampen our resolve."

Commissioner Scipione said all Australians must reflect on the courage shown by those caught up in this ordeal, caught up in a life-threatening situation because they wanted a cup of coffee.

"We, too, share the grief of the families and the pain that they've been through, not knowing what was happening to their loved ones and not being able to help them.

"It has been a distressing time for those families, I'm sure you would agree."

Comm Scipione said Sydneysiders must return to the city.

"This should never destroy or change the way of our life.

"And as the Premier has indicated, this won't change our lives, this will not change the things we hold dear in this country.

"Right now I ask for members of the community to come together.

"We are Australians. We support mates. We help friends and this is exactly what we should be doing at this time."





[4.38AM] Police confirm three dead, four injured in siege

POLICE confirm three people are dead and four are injured following the conclusion of the Sydney hostage crisis in Martin Place earlier this morning.

In a statement released ahead of the impending press conference, police report the 50-year-old gunman was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

A man, 34 and woman, 38 were each pronounced dead after being taken from the scene by emergency services.

Another woman has been taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to her shoulder.

A 35-year-old woman is also now in hospital as a precaution.

"The police operation has concluded and the investigations into the entire incident will be overseen by the Professional Standards Command," the statement read.

[3.30AM] UNCONFIRMED reports are coming from the scene that a third person is dead.

They are believed to have had a heart attack in hospital after being freed.

The New South Wales Premier and police are expected to hold a press conference at 5am Sydney time.

The death count includes gunman Man Haron Monis, who took hold of the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place at 9am NSW time on Monday.


[2.50AM] VIDEO: Police storm Lindt cafe, two dead, three injured

LATEST reports suggest the hostage killed in the Sydney siege was shot by the gunman before heavily armed police stormed the cafe.

The latest estimates from media at the scene is that there were 21 hostages in total.

Nine are believed to have been inside when the cafe was taken.

No police officers are understood to have been injured or killed.

As yet, there is no formal confirmation on this information from authorities or government.

Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney has confirmed to reporters that it is "treating a woman in her 40s is in a serious, but stable condition with a gunshot wound to her leg".

Families of the hostages have been waiting for news outside the St James' Supreme Court precinct, about 110m from the siege scene.

By the time the end of the siege was announced by police, the ordeal had spanned 16 hours.


[2.30AM] The gunman and a hostage reportedly killed as siege ends

It is not yet clear the extent of injuries from the incident but there are reports suggesting people may have been shot.

There has been no official clarification about the whereabouts or condition of the hostage taker who police earlier confirmed was Man Haron Monis.

Early reports are suggesting that two have been killed, one of those believed to be the gunman. This is yet to be confirmed.

Sydney Morning Herald reports two groups of hostages being released, the first "a group about five" escaped after the first shots were first.

Another group of five escaped after the second volley of shots.

Hostages have now been taken away by ambulance crews.




[1:30AM:] Hostages escape, police storm Martin Place Cafe in dramatic end to siege

DRAMATIC scenes quickly escalated this morning at Sydney's Martin Place.

After a handful of hostages emerged from the Lindt cafe, police stormed the building.

The early morning silence was broken all of a sudden with loud bangs and flashes.

A fire alarm has been ringing as ambulance officers rush in.

Hostages are being carried out by police and ambulance officers.

It is understood the bomb squad is moving in to investigate the building.


[12:30AM:] Police name Man Horis Monis as the man holding hostages

POLICE have released the identity of the man at the centre of the Sydney siege.

Man Monis, also known as Sheik Haron leaves the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney in 2010.
Man Monis, also known as Sheik Haron leaves the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney in 2010.


Man Haron Monis, 49, is reportedly known to police and according to Fairfax Media, previously penned poisonous letters to the family of dead Australian soldiers.

He has been described as a "self proclaimed spiritual leader", originally from Iran.

Last year he was charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and mother of two.


[9:30PM:] Sunshine Coast family terrified for Hariette, held captive in Sydney cafe

A SUNSHINE Coast family operated coffee shop has revealed one of its family members is a hostage at the Lindt cafe in Sydney. 

The Hidden Bean coffee shop in Maroochydore told customers today it will close its doors until daughter, sister and aunt Hariette is free and safe.  


[8:30PM:] Australian Muslims condemn the actions of the Sydney gunman holding hostages

 AUSTRALIAN Muslim groups have come together to condemn the actions of at least one gunman holding people hostage at a Sydney cafe. 

At 8.44 am Queensland time, the man sieged the Lindt Chocolat Cafe at Marvin Place and made hostages hold up an Islamic flag. 

More than 40 Australian Muslim groups released a joint statement on Monday to ensure the community and country knew their thoughts.

 "We reject any attempt to take the innocent life of any human being or to instil fear and terror into their hearts," they said in a statement.  

"Any such despicable act only serves to play into the agendas of those who seek to destroy the goodwill of the people of Australia and to further damage and ridicule the religion of Islam and Australian Muslims throughout this country," it added.  

"Our immediate thoughts go to the hostages and their loved ones.  

"We pray for their safety and hope this matter is resolved quickly and peacefully."    


Meanwhile, a movement has started around the country with people offering to ride on buses with Muslims, or give them a ride to work to keep them safe.

The hashtag #illridewithyou is being used on social media to combat the racism the Australian Muslim could experience as a result of Monday's events.




[7.30PM:] NSW Premier Mike Baird: Work from home if you can

THE NSW Premier has urged Sydney residents that work inside the Martin Place zone to work from home tomorrow.

His message comes through a press conference just now with Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione who indicated police are preparing for the hostage situation to last for days.

"Our plan... our only goal tonight and as long as it takes is to get those people caught in that building out safely," Mr Scipione said.

"We have the best negotiators in the world on the job right now."

"I will not be going into the tactics or strategies that we are employing, suffice to say we have large numbers of police, they are in contact and we are working to resolve this just as quickly as we possibly can," he said.

"For those that have loved ones that may be caught up in this, for those that may be in that particular building, rest assured we are doing all we can to set you free."   

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed one of the hostages had been taken to hospital, but for a pre-existing medical condition. 

Premier Mike Baird and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione also revealed they have had a conference call with Islamic leaders. 

Premier Baird the leaders expressed their full confidence and support in the NSW police.  

"We are in this together," he said.

The Premier encouraged Sydney workers and residents to go about as normal tomorrow morning. However there will be a couple of changes.  

"There will continue to be an exclusion zone around Martin Place. So if you work in this exclusion zone, I will ask you to work from home tomorrow."  


[7PM:] Police now negotiating with the gunman

Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said they are trying to deal with the situation peacefully.  

"It might take a bit of time but that is our approach," said Ms Burn.   

"We will be working into the night if this situation continues and we will be looking at arrangements for tomorrow."  

Police have requested that the media at the scene do not report the gunman's demands.


[5PM:] Prime Minister Tony Abbott praises 'calm approach' of authorities

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has praised the effort of police, security and the people of Sydney in the calm approach seen to today's shocking hostage situation in Martin Place.

As the hostage situation enters it's ninth hour, Mr Abbott has made his second statement to the media for the day on this 'disturbing incident'.


"Like Australians in all sorts of situations, we have risen to the challenge," he said.

"It is profoundly shocking people should be held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation."

APN staff in a building near the Lindt Cafe have written a first hand account of what it is like to be in a building nearby. Read that account here: First hand account of the situation in Sydney's CBD


[4PM:] Two more hostages flee from gunman's grip

IT is believed two more hostages have dashed out of the Lindt cafe in Sydney where many people have been kept hostage since just under 9am this morning.

From 9 News Twitter
From 9 News Twitter

This dash to safety followed a dramatic escape by three hostages at 3.30pm - one cafe employee and two customers.



Another tweet indicating the last two are females in Lindt uniforms:


[3.30PM]  NSW Police now confirming the escape of three hostages

NEW South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Catherine Burn has confirmed that three hostages have escaped the grip of their captors at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place.

Ahead of the peak hour rush, Ass. Comm. Burn said told those trapped in the buildings within the cordoned off area in Martin Place to stay put, but other Sydneysiders should head home as normal.

She would not confirm how many people were still inside the building with the captors.



"The most important thing is the safety of those hostages."

None of those captives have been harmed, as far as police know.

"Nobody has been harmed or injured at the moment.

"We have been wortkhing through our negotiations to try and make sure that the people inside are cared for, that they have what they need to, so that they don't become ill."

Police negotiators have had contact with those who have taken the hostages, but conceded they do not know why the cafe was stormed.

Listen to the full audio of the press conference below:



[2.40PM]  Three hostages escape Lindt Cafe in dramatic escape

POLICE have rushed closer to the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place after three hostages fled from their captors in the past 10 minutes.

The Guardian reports one staff member and what appears to be two customers were seen running from the cafe while police stood out the front with weapons drawn.

Their dramatic escape was not shown live, in an effort to ensure those inside were not tipped off.

Heavily armed police offers are now standing just outside the cafe.



[2.07PM]  Australia's top Muslim 'devastated' by hostage crisis

AUSTRALIA'S Grand Mufti has spoken of being "devastated" by the unfolding hostage crisis in Sydney's Martin Place, saying such a criminal act is "denounced in part and in whole in Islam".

Professor Ibrahim Abu Mohammed said he and the Australian national Imam Council condemned the attack unequivocally.

"We along with the wide Australian society await the results of the investigation about the identity of the perpetrators and their underlying motivations behind this criminal act," he said.


Sydneysiders desperately trying to escape the traffic snarls caused by the siege started taking to social media transport network Uber to find their way home.

After reports of Uber drivers gouging customers on their way home, the company is now offering free trips.


[1.49PM] Attackers had Sydney hostage call Ray Hadley

Sydney radio personality Ray Hadley has told the media he has spoken to one of the 50 hostages inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe, who called his show under instruction from those in control.

National media is now reporting that it is likely just one gunman inside the Lindt store. This is yet to be verified.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald he refused to put the caller to air because it was in noone's interest.

"I could hear the person in the background giving instructions to the young man I was talking to.

"The young man, remarkably, was quite calm, quite clam, and he was quite happy for us to have his phone number and said, 'I want you to ring me back in 10 minutes for further instructions from the man holding us hostage".

News Corp's Daily Telegraph has put out a "special 2PM edition" in response to the siege.


Chocolate giant Lindt is shutting down all its stores for the remainder of the day to ensure the safety of its customers in light of the hostage crisis in Sydney's Martin Place.

[1.07PM]  NSW Police will 'escalate' hostage situation when necessary

NEW South Wales Premier Mike Baird and Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione have attempted to calm Sydneysiders as the hostage crisis in Martin Place continues into its fourth hour.

Mr Baird said the city and its police were being "tested", but it was a trial it would overcome.

He praised police for acting decisively, then paid homage to those still imprisoned by two gunman with suspected links to an ISIS splinter group.

"Importantly now, our thoughts are prayers are with those who are caught up in the situation and we say to them, we are with them," he said.

Commissioner Scipione said it was still not clear why these gunmen had taken the hostages but police were treating the situation as "a terrorist event".

Despite reported threats earlier in the day that "devices" could be located around the city, Comm Scipione said all investigations on that front have come up negative.

Although they are not yet relying on the Australian Federal Police, SAS or army resources, the Commissioner said "we are ready to escalate should we need to but we have vast resources available to us, the best trained, most prepared and professional police in the nation and we are looking to resolve this as quickly as we can".

When asked if he expected such an incident would change Sydney, he responded:

No and it should not, we are incredibly proud of our city.

We are being tested today but the test will be met head on.

I am confident and thankful for the police and their activities and what they have done in the lead up and today, we are incredibly lucky to have them.


[11.57AM] Abbott speaks to nation: We won't let them scare us

Mr Abbott said the 'business of government' would go on, including Treasurer Joe Hockey's release of the national budget update as planned.

An excerpt of his speech below:

We don't yet know the motivation of the perpetrator, we don't know whether this is politically motivated although obviously there are some indications that it could be.

We have to appreciate that even in a society such as ours, there are people who would wish to do us harm, that's why we have police and security organisations of the utmost professionalism that are ready and able to respond to a whole range of situations and contingencies including this situation that we are now seeing in Sydney. 

The whole point of politically-motivated violence is to scare people out of being themselves.

Australia is a peaceful, open, and generous society.

Nothing should ever change that and that's why I would urge all Australians today to go about their business as usual.

Of course, if anyone does have any suspicions of untoward activity, there is the national security hotline, 1800 123 400 which I would urge them to call.





[11.50AM] Staffer in Sydney's CBD tells of her building being evacuated at height of crisis

A CBD worker has told APN of their building's evacuation as gunmen took 50 hostages at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place.

After first thinking it was an armed hold-up, it quickly became clear that it was something far more sinister.

She said she suspected there to be more than 13 hostages, a fact that was confirmed soon after.

She worried about how many children could be holed up in the cafe, because it is located so close to David Jones.

Read her recount below:

"We are in the BNP Parabis building on Elizabeth street.

"There were lots of police, SWAT teams, police yelling and running around with guns.

"Initially we were told to stay inside and get away from windows then told we had to evacuate via our Castlereagh St entrance.

"Everyone was told to head to Hyde Park. The thought of that scared the hell out of me, thousands and thousands of people gathered in the same spot if there was an attack

"We are diagonal to Channel 7 building"

"The majority of us decided to get out of the CBD by foot. We were glad to get out of our building actually. 

"The American consulate is across the road, so is the Reserve Bank etc.

"I feel sick to the stomach for the poor people in the cafe.

"We were initially told it was an armed hold up so we were actually taking it very lightly. We thought it was a thug wanting cash.

"As soon as we saw the Islamic flag you could see the realisation on everyone's faces that this is really serious.

"I am terrified there is children in there, David Jones is just down the street so there are heaps of mums with kids going to see Santa and hanging around Martin Place


Martin Place gunman threatens "devices" across Sydney

[11.32AM] THE gunman currently holding 50 people hostage inside a luxurious cafe in Sydney's Martin Place is reportedly warning negotiators that there are four "devices" located around Sydney.

Authorities are now responding to the unverified threat.

Earlier information suggested there were 13 trapped inside, that number has been revised up significantly in past minutes.

There is not yet any indication that this is a credible threat.

Already the man is understood to have demanded to speak to Prime Minister Tony Abbott live on radio.

Mr Abbott has not responded to the demand. A statement was released from the PM's office, giving full support to the New South Wales Government and its police.

A man unrelated to the hostage crisis has been arrested just 200m from the siege area.


Hostage crisis: First images of 'lead gunman'

[11.06AM] THE first look at the alleged lead gunman holding 13 hostages in the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place has been broadcast by Channel Seven.


PM calls hostage crisis "deeply concerning" as terrorists make demands

[10.51AM] HOSTAGE takers in Martin Place are reportedly demanding to speak to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Sydney 2GB announcer Ray Hadley has told his audience this morning that the central figure in this siege has demanded to speak to the PM live on radio.

Mr Abbott has meanwhile released a statement on the evolving crisis.

The Prime Minister said the incident was "deeply concerning" but was confident that Australian authorities were capable of responding to the situation.

He offered NSW Premier Mike Baird any assistance he needs to help protect those involved.

Full statement below:

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


Mr Baird has put out his own statement, putting his full faith in the state's police and emergency services.

All my thoughts and prayers are with those members of the public affected by the situation in Martin Place and the NSW Police who are trained to deal with these events.

I have spoken to Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and have full confidence the NSW Police are working effectively to resolve the situation.

I will provide further information as appropriate.


Islamic flag hoisted in Martin Place hostage crisis

THE flag being hung inside the occupied Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place is understood to be a black flag with the words "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God", although reports suggest it is not specifically an ISIS flag.

Lindt chocolate is not considered Halal-certified.

ABC are relaying "unconfirmed reports" that hostage-takers are wearing backpacks, fuelling concerns they could be carrying an explosive.

Daily Telegraph is reporting there are 13 hostages -- early information put it closer to 20 -- and there are "at least two gunmen" involved.

A huge contingent of police are currently surrounding the building, with reports from the scene suggesting civilians near the scene are being "barricaded" underground.

Michael Silva, speaking to ABC from a between Castlereagh and Elizabeth streets.

"(Police) said don't leave, everyone stay downstairs and they barricaded the place off.

"It's crazy. I think it was a bit -- when it was a siege and everyone was out the front of the cafe watching but I think as soon as the flags went up, everyone went crazy."

The Sydney Opera House has reportedly been evacuated and Sydney air space is also understood to have been shut down in a response to the siege.


Hostages taken in Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place

AT LEAST one armed man has taken over a Sydney cafe where morning restaurant goers have been taken hostage.

Witnesses say a man, armed with a gun walked into the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Place this morning. Police were called to the cafe around 9.45am NSW time.

Officers with guns drawn have attended the scene and surrounded it.

Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that "about 20 staff and customers" are being held by the gunman.

Martin Place businesses, including the nearby Channel 7 studios, have been evacuated

Sydney airspace has also been reportedly shut down as a result of the Martin Place siege.

A black flag, which has been reported to resemble an ISIS flag, has been seen hanging inside the cafe.

It is now thought to not be an ISIS flag, although it is black and features Arabic text.

Latest reports suggest hostages are being forced to press themselves against the windows.

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