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.
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."
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.