Hostage reveals drama inside Sydney siege

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Sydney, Dec 18: Sydney hostage Joel Herat has revealed the drama that unfolded inside the cafe where he and 16 others were held at gunpoint by Islamist extremist Man Haron Monis.

In an interview with Fairfax Media published Thursday, his father Bruce Herat said Joel told them Monis repeatedly said "someone must die now" when the first of the hostages escaped Monday afternoon.

Three people, including Monis, died in the siege.

Monis was wide awake and highly agitated by the early hours of Tuesday morning in the Lindt Cafe in the city's central business district.

Joel Herat told his family Monis was herding the terrified hostages into separate groups, Xinhua reported citing the interview. They feared they would "not survive until the morning if they did not do something", Bruce Herat said.

He said his son's group of hostages decided to kick down an internal door so they could escape.

"From what Joel told me initially, towards 2 a.m. Monis started to bring groups of people together in close proximity from where they had been dispersed throughout (the cafe)," he said.

"And at that point in time, Joel and five others came to the conclusion that they were not going to survive until the morning if they did not do something.

"So I think him and Jarrod (19-year-old Jarrod Hoffman) basically came to the conclusion that they would bust down the door. And I know that Joel made sure that Harriette (Denny)... got behind him and he said, 'You're coming with me', and basically made sure that all in that group were ready to go when Joel and Jarrod broke down the door, it was a group of six in total, I'm not sure who the others were."

This was the group seen escaping just before heavily armed tactical assault police stormed the cafe.

Earlier Monday, when the first group of hostages escaped, Monis was furious.

"We knew that three escaped early on, and I knew that was fabulous, but we were very much worried that some form of retribution would be taken," Bruce Herat said.

"Luckily it wasn't but I know that when I spoke to Joel later he said that upon the first escape, (Monis) lined up five people, one of them was Joel, and pointed a gun at them and said, 'Someone must die now'.

"I don't know how they did it but they did kick down the (internal) door, which leads to the barristers' chambers, and then the moment they busted that door down, Joel heard shots in his proximity. And he made sure that Harriette got out and Jarrod got out, there were shots as they were fleeing," Jared Herat's father said.

"It had to be immediate, no opportunity to look back or anything like that, they just had to take their opportunity."

Bruce Herat said families of the hostages waited in a nearby court building until the siege ended.

IANS

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