Update: Sydney Hostage Crisis Ends

Police stormed the Lindt Chocolate Café on Tuesday morning in Australia. Gunfire could be heard in the vicinity as a number of the remaining hostages began to escape the building. A number of people were hit in the exchange of gunfire, leading to two confirmed deaths and leaving at least three people in serious condition, reported Australia’s ABC News. The status of the gunman isn’t yet known.

Sydney Hostage Crisis

The hostage crisis in Sydney continues, as an unknown number of people remain inside the Australian city’s Lindt Chocolat Cafe after five individuals have managed to escape.

Six hours into the hostage crisis, three of those trapped within the cafe broke free, followed by another two women who got out via a side exit, according to ABC News. Other hostages have reportedly been making efforts to contact the media. Australian authorities are continuing to monitor the situation in the hopes of rescuing the remaining hostages.

The armed perpetrator of the hostage situation has been identified as Iranian Man Haron Monis, who currently has political asylum in Australia, reported the BBC. Monis, a self-styled cleric, is apparently on bail for being an accessory to the murder of his former wife, as well as for more than 40 sexual and indecent assault charges.

Monis has forced hostages to hold up a black Islamic flag during their captivity and to deliver messages to the media for him. Though the media has been cautioned against sharing his demands, it has been revealed that he wants an ISIS flag delivered to the cafe.

“We don’t yet know the motivation of the perpetrator,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference Monday. “We don’t know that this is politically motivated although there is 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.”

Australian authorities have set up a perimeter in central Sydney, shutting down all streets and businesses within it until the hostage situation comes to an end. When Monis entered the cafe, it is believed that 10 employees and 30 customers were inside.

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