One gunman of Islamic extremist group is holding several people as hostages at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney. The police have confirmed that three of those help up inside had managed to escape to safety and there were no reports to suggest that anyone had been injured so far. The café has been surrounded by armed police and several buildings around the café have evacuated. Others have been locked and those working in them asked to stay off until further notice.
The cafe is situated in Martin Place, a busy area that is home to several major banks, including the Reserve Bank of Australia and the state Parliament.
Catherine Burn, deputy police commissioner in New South Wales State, wouldn’t say whether the three people had escaped or were freed by the gunman. Like her boss, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, Burn wouldn’t discuss the gunman’s possible motive, although she said police had made contact with the hostage taker.
Scipione said he couldn’t rule out a terrorist attack and said officers were responding on “a footing consistent with a terrorism event.”
Both the officers could not be sure about the number of people that had been help under captivity. Although they believed that their number was less than 30. “We are being tested today, but we met that test head-on,” New South Wales Premier Mike Baird said. “It is something we must deal with, we will deal with. We are dealing with it.”
Glenn Connley, senior producer-reporter with Channel 7 News Investigation, says he saw a black flag similar to that of the terror outfit ISIS in the window of the café. “Initially we thought it was an armed robbery, but when the flag went up, it appeared that someone had a different motive altogether. We took some cover, we moved to the back of our building, and subsequently the police came in and evacuated us. I went to a nearby hospital forecourt with a cameraman. We were about 100m away from the cafe, and had a view of the main door,” he said.
The incident comes on the heels of a police crackdown on terrorist outfits in Sydney in September after an ISIS spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, had urged the Muslims in Australia to carry out “lone-wolf” attacks against civilians in a speech on Sept. 21.