Sydney siege: Three dead including gunman and four injured in attack at Lindt Cafe

 
Joe Hall
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Paramedics treated casualties after police stormed the cafe (Source: Getty)

Three people have died including the 50-year old hostage taker and four were injured after police stormed Lindt chocolate cafe in Sydney's central business district following a 16-hour siege, New South Wales police said at a press conference.

Two hostages -- a man aged 34 and a woman aged 38 -- were pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

Two women sustained non-life threatening injures while a male police officer suffered a non-life threatening facial injury from gunshot pellets. Another woman was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to her shoulder.

Earlier today television footage of the scene in the Martin Place area of the city showed the officers entering the building via the cafe's back entrance amid loud explosions just after 2am local time. New South Wales police confirmed the siege was over about 20 minutes afterwards.

The escalation of the incident occurred shortly after between five and seven hostages managed to escape the siege. Five others had fled earlier in the day.

Paramedics were seen stretchering away a number of people after police went in to the cafe. Australian media reports claimed that two people were killed, with one understood to be the hostage-taker and the other a hostage he shot dead, but this has not been confirmed by authorities.

Video footage captured the dramatic moment as police threw stun grenades into the building.

A gunman identified as Man Haron Monis took siege of the cafe at around 9:45am on Monday morning local time.

Monis, is an Iranian-born self-described Muslim cleric who moved to Australia in 1996. The 50-year-old is currently on bail for a number of violent offences including accessory to murder.

He came to the attention of police seven years ago after sending offensive letters to the families of dead soldiers.

Sydney Lindt cafe siege hostage escapes

A woman in a Lindt uniform was seen escaping from the cafe (Source: Getty)

Police set up an exclusion around the area and Commissioner Andrew Scipione said: "Our only goal tonight and for as long as this takes, is to get those people that are currently caught in that building, out of there safely."

During the day, a number of hostages appeared in the windows of the cafe, with some holding what appears to be an Islamic flag to the window.
The flag displayed the shahada Islamic creed which displays messages reading: “There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of the God.”
After around six hours into the siege, three people were seen running from the building, while two female staff workers followed about an hour later. The below clip, taken from Channel 7 News, appears to show a woman wearing a Lindt uniform.
Australian media channels claim to have been contacted by the gunman with a list of demands, but local police have requested the details are not made public.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott issued two statements and attended two National Security Committee of the Cabinet meetings.
In his second statement, Abbott confirmed the gunman is "claiming political motivation", but has not described it as an act of terrorism.
Earlier in the day Abbott said:
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.
Commissioner Scipione called for calm in the wake of the situation, saying "clearly reprisal attacks are something that should not happen."
Multi-faith prayer vigils were held in mosques around Australia while a statement issued on behalf of 50 Muslim organisations has denounced the gunman.
The Grand Mufti of Australia, Professor Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, has unequivocally condemned the siege, saying: "Such actions are denounced in part and in whole in Islam."
Martin Place in Sydney:

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