Indian consulate in Sydney evacuated, staff safe: Government

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New Delhi, Dec 15: The Indian consulate in Sydney was evacuated in view of the hostage situation in a cafe near its premises and all the staff members are safe, the external affairs ministry on Monday said.

"As a preventive measure in accordance with the local requirements, we have evacuated the staff from the Sydney Consulate building because it is located about 300-400 metres away from where this incident took place," ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in the national capital.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin

An armed man on Monday took undisclosed number of people hostage at a Cafe in Martin Place in the heart of Sydney's business district.

The Indian Consulate is in touch with local authorities and all the staffers in the consulate are safe, the spokesperson said.

"Our Consulate is in touch with local authorities. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has spoken to the High Commissioner who is in touch with local organisations," Akbaruddin said.

5 hostages run out of Sydney siege cafe: Police

"Such incidents are always difficult to handle but we have standard procedures which are in place in such matters. We have also set up a helpline and the Deputy Counsel General is available on +61481453550.

"In case anybody would like to know any information we will be providing that information. At this stage, all we can do is to keep in touch with local authorities and provide information as and when that is provided to us," the spokesperson said.

He said the government is focussed on the issue of safety and security of Indian nationals there.

Martin Place is a public pedestrian thoroughfare through the heart of Sydney, joining its parliamentary, legal and retail districts.

In Sydney, Consul General Sunjay Sudhir told PTI that due to security concerns "we locked down our office at 12:00 pm and asked all our officers to go to places of safety".

He said that the Central Business District (CBD) where the cafe is located is the area where many Indian establishments including the SBI, Bank of Baroda and Indian tourism office are located.

"We are in touch with the security agencies and have asked them specifically if any Indians were present inside the cafe...they have not told us about the nationality," Sudhir said.

PTI

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