Warning: This post contains images and video that may be distressing to some readers.
This post is being updated live as new details emerge; keep checking back for updates.
Australia has woken to some awful news, as we learn that the siege has ended with the deaths of two of the hostages and and gunman.
Here is what we know so far for sure:
How it ended
Police stormed the Sydney Lindt Café shortly after 2am, when the 17-hour siege finally came to an end. A hail of bullet fire and gun grenades were used to free the hostages in an operation known as “Operation Hammerhead”.
Police have confirmed that 17 people were held hostage during the siege, and that three people died throughout the incident: 34-year-old Lindt manager Tori Johnson and 38-year-old barrister Katrina Dawson, as well as the 50-year-old gunman, who has been identified as Man Haron Monis.
Katrina Dawson (left) and Tori Johnson (right) tragically lost their lives in the siege.
Read more about the hostages, and tributes to the vicims of the siege, here.
Six people were injured during the siege, Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said this morning. NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed in a press conference that a police officer was injured — reportedly shot in the face — but his injuries are not life threatening.
Commissioner Scipione said the perpetrator was a lone gunman.
Read more about the identity of the gunman here.
The hostages were said to have been divided into two groups overnight.
The siege came to an end when loud explosions and yelling was heard from outside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe at 2:00am (AEDT).
Just after 2:00am, a man in a white shirt emerged with his hands up and lay down on the ground in front of police, the Daily Mail reports. He was patted down and escorted to safety.
Photos of the siege. Post continues below:
Minutes later, it’s understood five more people raced outside with their hands up and were directed away by police.
NSW Police Comm Andrew Scipione said that police heard gunshots inside the premises and moved in. A police sniper shouted ‘hostage down, window two’ shortly before police entered, Sky News reports.
The Daily Mail reports it is believed Monis had fired his gun, reportedly killing one of his captives.
In chilling footage of the incident, many flashes of light can be seen coming from inside the Lindt cafe doorway.
Commissioner Scipione said if police had not entered at that time, many more lives would have been lost.