Sydney, Dec 15: An armed gunman took an unknown number of hostages at Lindt Cafe in Martin Place in Sydney in a siege on Monday which has so far lasted more than 12 hours now. The armed assailant walked into the cafe, took hostages and forced them to display a flag triggering a security alert in Australia.
Here are the major developments of the #Sydneysiege so far:
- The incident happened at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Place, the heart of Sydney's business district. Authorities have not only evacuated people from nearby buildings but also sealed the surrounding streets following the siege in the capital of New South Wales.
- The first major development came after six hours, when five people, three men and two women, were seen running out of the cafe. But the police has yet not confirmed whether they were freed or they escaped.
- People inside the cafe were seen with their hands pressed against the window holding the black flag with white Arabic writing. As per a online portal, it was a prayer spoken in mosques daily. "There is no God but Allah; Mohammed is his messenger" was written on the black flag.
- The New South Wales police later confirmed that they are in touch with the gunman(as it is expected that there is only one gunman). Those who came out from the cafe could not say how many hostages are present inside, but they said that it is less than 30.
- An Infosys employee is among those being held hostage by an unidentified armed man who stormed a downtown cafe in Sydney, the IT giant confirms. The Infosys, in a statement, said one of its employees in Sydney was among the hostages and that the employee's family has been informed about it.
- "We can confirm that one Infosys employee is among the hostages at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney," the Bengaluru- headquartered company said.
- The Indian Consulate located near the cafe was immediately evacuated along with many other buildings in the Australian city as a preventive step. Government said all Indian staffers at the consulate are safe. The consulate is around 300-400 metres away from the Lindt cafe.
- According to Australian TV channels, the hostage-taker has two demands: Firts, to speak with Australian PM Tony Abbott and second, to have an Isis flag brought to the cafe. The hostage-taker also warned and said that four bombs have been planted around the city.
- As per reports, a Sydney-based radio presenter said that he spoke to one of the hostages inside the cafe and he could hear the gunman talking in the background. reports also say that the gunman wanted the hostage to speak live on radio, but the RJ claimed to have refused the demand.
- "The male hostage was remarkably calm when relaying information over the phone from the gunman," said Ray Hadley, a radio presenter of 2GB, a commercial radio station here.
- Hadley said he could hear the gunman talking in the background during the phone conversation, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
- As per reports, even as the siege continues in Sydney, lights inside the Lindt cafe have gone off and the gunman has reportedly said that he will release a hostage if an ISIS flag is delivered to him.
- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott holds a press conference saying he is not sure if the siege is politically motivated and urges Australians to go about their business as usual. He adds: "I can think of almost nothing more distressing or terrifying than to be caught up in such a situation, and our hearts go out to those people."
- PM Mr Abbott makes another statement regarding the siege after chairing a meeting of the Cabinet's National Security Committee. He says: "It is profoundly shocking that innocent people should be held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation."
- He further said, "It is profoundly shocking that innocent people should be held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation."
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "The incident in Sydney is disturbing. Such acts are inhuman & deeply unfortunate. I pray for everyone's safety."
- UK Prime Minister David Cameron, tweeted and said: "I was briefed overnight on the siege in Sydney. It's deeply concerning and my thoughts are with all those caught up in it."
- With the hostage situation continuing for more than 12 hours, Twitter is trending with #illridewithyou. #Illridewithyou is to help the Muslims to travel back home as well as back to work the next morning.
(With inputs from agencies)