December 15, 2015
BLOODY END TO SIEGE: Two hostages feared dead and Muslim gunman killed as police storm Sydney cafe with assault rifles and stun grenades moments after hostages tried to flee
An Iranian-born gunman was killed and two of his hostages are feared dead after a dramatic and chaotic firefight brought an end to the terrorist siege at a Sydney cafe.
Teams of heavily armed police swooped on the Lindt Chocolat cafe in a hail of gunfire, ending a tense stand-off where a jihadist had been holding around 20 people captive for 17 hours.
There were reports that at least three others were injured, but this could not immediately be confirmed.
Live television coverage showed at least two people being taken away from the scene on stretchers, while one hostage was seen being carried out of the building. She appeared to be in pain and blood flowed down her legs.
Nine News reported that eleven hostages had been accounted for after the police raid, which occurred shortly after 2am.
A police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia that the siege was over, but gave no more details. Police are due to hold a press conference after 5.30am local time and Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to address the nation.
A scene of pandemonium erupted in the early morning just minutes after hostages started emerging from the cafe.
Initially one man emerged with his hands up and lay down on the ground in front of police. Seconds later, a group of of five hostages appeared suddenly after apparently escaping the cafe.
Seven Network reporter Chris Reason, who was watching from his newsroom across the road, said Monis was attempting to usher the hostages from one side of the café to the other when a group broke away.
This appeared to be the trigger for tactical police to move in. Within seconds, they had blasted through the cafe door and opened fire with automatic weapons, also hurling what appeared to be stun grenades. The sounds of explosions echoed through the city, and the flashes of rifle fire and the grenades lit up the area.
The gunfight lasted less than two minutes, and more hostages appeared to emerge after the police raid.
As the scene calmed down, a bomb disposal robot was seen entering the cafe.
The dramatic end to the siege came as the gunman holding the remaining captives was revealed as a self-proclaimed Islamic cleric Man Haron Monis.
Monis is a 49-year-old man living in southwest Sydney, but is originally from Iran and a self-proclaimed sheik, and also sent hate mail to the families of Australian dead soldiers between 2007 and 2009, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The seige in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place on Monday follows an unsuccessful attempt to have these charges overturned in the High Court on Friday, The Age reported.
Monis received 300 community service hours and a two-year good behaviour bond for the correspondence, which he claims were his version of sympathy cards, sent with the help from his girlfriend Amirah Droudis.
Arriving as a refugee in Australia in 1996, the hostage-taker was charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife – who was allegedly stabbed and set on fire on a flight of stairs in her western Sydney apartment block in November 2013.
The man’s current partner was charged with murder but they both received bail as the case was deemed too weak.
He was also arrested in April this year for the sexual assault of a 27-year-old woman in 2002 after luring her to his clinic following claims he was as an expert in astrology, meditation and black magic, The Daily Telegraph also reported.
Monis was slapped with an additional 40 charges in October after more victims to come forward after the alleged incidents that occurred from his spiritual healing clinic in Station Street in Wentworthville – western Sydney.
High profile Sydney Muslim leader Jamal Rifi told Daily Mail Australia he knew of the gunman but not on a personal level.
‘What he expressed did not reflect the Muslim community which is why he is not part of the larger Muslim community and that’s why he does not belong to a mainstream mosque,’ he said.
‘He wanted his name known and may want some gratification from the reaction to this’
As many as 15 hostages seized by the gunman, who stormed a Sydney cafe at morning rush hour on Monday, are facing a terrifying night as a siege in the centre of the city continued after dark, hours after five captives made a courageous break for freedom.
Three videos were released on YouTube of three female hostages declaring the gunman’s demands, which included the police bringing an ISIS flag to the cafe and insisting that he speak with Prime Minister Tony Abbott – however Daily Mail Australia decided not to air the disturbing footage which has since been taken down.
Channel Nine reported the gunman’s name after receiving approval from senior police.
Witnesses saw food prepared in the cafe’s kitchen brought out to the remaining hostages, thought to number between ten and 15, as the stand-off with heavily armed police entered its twelfth hour.
The drama began unfolding around 9,30 am, when a gunman entered the cafe, located in one of busiest plazas in Sydney’s central business district, and pulled a shotgun from a blue carry bag and disabled the doors to the business.
Soon afterwards, hostages were seen with their hands pressed against the windows holding up the Islamic Shahada flag. It is an emblem of extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting the Assad government in Syria. The man was described as wearing a headband with Arabic writing on it.
Scores of police rushed to the scene, evacuating surrounding buildings and closing off part of the city. The scene sent shockwaves across Australia, where terror attacks have rarely touched home soil.
Paramilitary police armed with automatic rifles spent all day Monday surrounding the cafe, but senior commanders said they would be taking a patient approach to the siege and hoped to end it through negotiation with the gunman.
A total of five hostages, including barista Elly Chen, managed to escape the cafe by scrambling out a side door about seven hours into the drama. Fear etched on their faces, they ran into the arms of waiting police.
It is understood the hostages escaped from the cafe, rather than being released by their captor. One former male hostage has been taken to nearby St Vincent’s Hospital, in Sydney’s inner suburbs, and is being treated for a pre-existing condition.
The gunman flew into a rage when he realised some of his captives had escaped.
‘The gunman could be seen from here getting extremely agitated, shouting at remaining hostages,’ tweeted journalist Chris Reason, who has a direct line of sight into the cafe from the Seven Network newsroom directly opposite and inside the police cordon.
The light inside the building has gone off tonight, Mr Reason said, but police would not reveal whether it was a law enforcement or hostage-taker tactic.
Police negotiators have learned the name of the man and have made contact.
This evening, Mr Reason said he could see the gunman rotating the hostages through positions in the store’s window.
‘From inside Martin Place we can see the faces of hostages – pained, strained, eyes red and raw,’ he recounted. Food and water was also being delivered to the prisoners from the cafe’s back kitchens.
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