Sydney hostage seize unfolding in pedestrian shopping tourist district
The Jihadist flag is flying at Lindt cafe in the Martin Place city centre of Sydney, New South Wales in Australia.
The Jihadist flag is flying at Lindt cafe in the Martin Place city centre of Sydney, New South Wales in Australia. A hostage situation is unfolding in the heart of the shopping and tourism center in Sydney. Martin Place is a pedestrian mall in the central business district. Martin Place is the “civic heart” of Sydney.
A senior Lindt Australia official said that 10 staff and up to 30 customers could be held inside the Lindt Chocolate Café in Martin Place. There were “probably 30 customers” at the time of the attack, Sky Business quoted Lindt Australia Chief Executive Steve Loane as saying. There was no immediate confirmation of the exact number of assailants
At least one terror suspect has a gun.
Images have emerged from the Lindt cafe siege showing what appears to be the gunman wearing a black bandana emblazoned with white Arabic script.
One of the hostage contacted a local radio station relating a demand from the hostage taker to be on life radio. A captor reportedly demanded to speak with Prime Minister Tony Abbott live on the radio, Australian radio host of 2GB morning show, Ray Hadley, has said. Hadley added that hostages inside the cafe contacted him. He refused airing their conversation for the safety of those inside the building.
Another report claimed that the gunmen have explosive suicide belts.
People in the central business district are “about half business as usual and half leaving city area. A lot of places are empty. No panic but general unease.
The UK Foreign Office says office is aware of hostage situation in Martin Place, Sydney.
The US has evacuated its Sydney consulate, located close to the Lindt cafe, Reuters quoted a spokeswoman as saying.
The consulate released an emergency statement to US citizens, warning them to “maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”
Lindt Chocolate posted this on the company Facebook: “We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and kind support over the current situation at the Lindt Chocolate Café at Martin Place. We are deeply concerned over this serious incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the staff and customers involved and all their friends and families. The matter is being dealt with by the authorities and we are waiting for any updates from them.”
The Grand Mufti of Australia issues statement condemning Sydney hostage situation, saying he ‘the Australian National Imams Council and the Muslim community express their full support and solidarity with their victims and their families and aspire to a peaceful resolve to this calamity’
Sydney Police confirm 3 people managed to escape the café. Local medical officials are evaluating them