Sydney police storm cafe, end hostage situation

World Today

Armed tactical response police check buildings close to a cafe under siege at Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

This post is will be updated as new information becomes available. Last update: 2:10 p.m. EST SYDNEY (AP) — A flurry of loud bangs erupted early on Tuesday as a swarm of heavily armed police stormed the cafe where the gunman had been holding an unknown number of people hostage for more than 16 hours. The gunman was believed to be a self-styled Muslim cleric out on bail on a string of violent charges.

CCTV’s Natalie Poyhonen reported the latest situation from Sydney.

Sydney police storm cafe, end hostage situation

A flurry of loud bangs erupted early on Tuesday as a swarm of heavily armed police stormed the cafe where the gunman had been holding an unknown number of people hostage for more than 16 hours. The gunman was believed to be a self-styled Muslim cleric out on bail on a string of violent charges. CCTV's Natalie Poyhonen reported the latest situation from Sydney.

Police said a hostage situation in Sydney ended early on Tuesday after a swarm of heavily armed police stormed a downtown cafe where a gunman had been holding an unknown number of people. (Read the full statement here.) Police said a 34-year-old man and 38-year-old woman were among the three dead including the gunamn, but wouldn’t say whether the two hostages killed were caught in crossfire or shot by the gunman.

A police spokesman confirmed “the operation is over” but would not release any further details.

Local media reported early Tuesday that the gunman is Iranian-born Man Haron Monis. A police official said “you wouldn’t be wrong” in identifying the 50-year-old Monis as the gunman. Under department rules, officials do not identify themselves unless speaking at a formal news conference.

The gunman took an unknown number of hostages inside a Sydney cafe at the height of Monday morning (local time) rush hour. Police swooped into the Lindt Chocolate Cafe Tuesday shortly after five or six hostages were seen running out of the building.

After the police moved in, one weeping woman was helped out by the officers and at least two other people were wheeled out on stretchers.

Image of police handout via ABC videojournalist @jacksonvernon  on Twitter.

Image of police handout via ABC videojournalist @jacksonvernon on Twitter.

A Sydney hospital official said a hostage was receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the leg.


The drama began in Martin Place, a plaza in the heart of the city’s financial and shopping district that is packed with holiday shoppers this time of year. Many of those inside the cafe would have been taken hostage as they stopped in for their morning coffees.

Television video shot through the cafe’s windows showed several people with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the glass, and two people holding up a black flag with the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith, written on it.

As EU foreign ministers met discuss ways to support the U.N. to end violence in Syria, Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, commented on the Australian hostage situation.

“This is not a new phenomenon, we have always said that jihadist extremism, international jihadism is a threat to the international community as a whole,” he told reporters.


Douglas Smith on the Sydney hostage situation

CCTV America interviewed Douglas Smith, executive vice president and general manager of public relations firm MWW.

Douglas Smith on the Sydney hostage situation

CCTV America interviewed Douglas Smith, executive vice president and general manager of MWW.


Thomas Ruskin of the New York City police on the Sydney hostage situation

CCTV America also spoke with Thomas Ruskin, a former detective and investigator in the New York City police department.

Thomas Ruskin of the New York City police on the Sydney hostage situation

CCTV America also spoke with Thomas Ruskin, a former detective and investigator in the New York City police department.


Social media and the Sydney siege suspect

The hostage situation was unique in the way the gunman used social media to broadcast his message. It began long before he set foot in the cafe. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported in Washington.

Social media and the Sydney siege suspect

The hostage situation was unique in the way the gunman used social media to broadcast his message. It began long before he set foot in the cafe. CCTV America's Jim Spellman reported in Washington.


Peter Jennings of the Australian Policy Institute on Sydney hostage situation and domestic security

CCTV America spoke with Peter Jennings, Executive Director for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, Australia.

Peter Jennings on hostage situation and domestic security

CCTV America spoke with Peter Jennings, Executive Director for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, Australia.


Greg Barton on how ISIL recruits new members

To talk about ISIL’s efforts to recruit more Westerners into their cause, CCTV America talked to Greg Barton from Melbourne. He’s the director of the Global Terrorism Research Center.

Greg Barton on how ISIL recruits new members

To talk about ISIL's efforts to recruit more Westerners into their cause, CCTV America talked to Greg Barton from Melbourne. He's the director of the Global Terrorism Research Center.