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It's over: Siege in Sydney's Martin Place ends in shoot-out.

This post contains rolling coverage of the situation in Martin Place. Please keep checking back for further updates.

Warning: This post contains distressing images.

3.55am:

It has been confirmed that one of the fatal injuries at the scene was the gunman, Man Haron Monis, 50.

3.46am:

It is still unconfirmed exactly how many casualties there have been at the siege. ABC News report that at least two have died, it is thought one is the gunman. Network Seven  say there were 21 hostages in the building. Five escaped this afternoon, then 7 more at 2am.

3am:

Network Seven are reporting casualties at the scene, but as yet numbers are not confirmed. The injured have been taken to nearby St Vincent’s Hospital.

A female hostage is taken from the cafe by paramedics. Image: Getty.

2.40am:

Reports that police in full bomb disposal equipment are going into the building, now clear of hostages.

2.35am:

It has been confirmed that heavily-armed police have stormed the cafe. The ABC are reporting that at least 10 people have left the cafe safely. Families of the hostages were near the scene as events unfolded.

2.30am:

Gunfire heard at cafe – sirens ring out out and ambulances are racing from the scene.

2.08 am:

Multiple hostages seen running out of cafe towards police. It is still to be confirmed whether hostages have been released as a result of police negotiation with suspected gunman, Man Haron Monis, or have escaped on their own.

1.30am:

The man who continues to hold more than a dozen people hostage in Sydney’s CBD is known to police. Self-described cleric, Man Haron Monis, 50, first came to the attention of NSW police when he authored spiteful letters to the family of dead Australian soldiers seven years ago.

Last year, he was charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and has also previously been charged with over 50 allegations of sexual assault.

On his own web page, the South-West Sydney resident claims the most recent charges were brought against him for “political reasons”.

Police have authorised the release of his identity as he continues to hold hostages in the Martin Place cafe.

10.00pm: UPDATED

The NSW Government has updated its exclusion zone notice stating that “The NSW Government wants to send a clear message to the people of Sydney – when you wake up tomorrow morning, go about your normal business. There will be some necessary changes.” You can read more about it here.

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9.45pm:

9.30pm:

8.30pm:

The NSW Police Commissioner says there is no need for people to be in and around Martin Place. He praises Sydney residents once again and asks for them to continue their cooperation with police.

He confirms that the police are dealing only with one location at this stage. Other locations such as the Sydney Opera House have been cleared and deemed safe. The police are focused on Martin Place at this stage.

8.28pm: 

The NSW Police Commissioner thanks Sydney residents for their cooperation and says to friends and families of the hostages that safety is their number one priority.

He says he will not speak about tactics or strategy with the media and refuses to confirm that lights in the cafe have gone off at the police’s urging. The Police Commissioner says the world’s best negotiators are on the job right now and he won’t talk about matters that could put their discussions at risk.

To the best of the police’s knowledge the remaining hostages are unharmed.

The police ask that any media who are receiving contact from hostages should try and get them in contact with the police. The police want to talk to the armed man inside; their negotiators are those best placed to do that.

Many out there are guessing and speculating about this man’s motive, says the Police Commissioner. The police will not do that. He won’t confirm the number of police involved but says he will put as many as he needs to onto this situation.

8.20pm: 

The NSW Premier and NSW Police Commissioner are speaking at a second press conference this evening. The Premier confirms he has had regular briefings with his senior ministers and spoken with Muslim community leaders.

Tomorrow morning will proceed as usual for Sydney-siders, he said. Please go about your business as you normally would, he urges but notes that the exclusion zone in Martin Place will remain in place. Those who work inside that zone should stay at home. Transport will operate as normal with minor changes around the exclusion zone. Details available on Government websites.

8.14pm:

Channel 7 journalist Chris Reason has reportedly been allowed back inside of the Channel 7 premises, immediately next to the Lindt cafe. He reports on Twitter (unconfirmed by other sources) that hostages have been gathered at one end of the cafe. He also says lights in the cafe have been turned off.

8.09pm: The Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place has been under siege since 09.45 this morning.

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Since that moment there has been back to back updates about what has been happening in the Sydney CBD.

Here is how the events have panned out so far:

Another press conference to be held by the NSW Premier Mike Baird and NSW Police Commissioner updating the situation at 8.15pm.

7.49pm: Muslim leaders have responded with a press release stating that:

The Australian Muslim community shares with fellow Sydneysiders their utter shock and horror at the unprecedented scenes emerging in the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place this morning. Our immediate thoughts go to the hostages and their loved ones. We pray for their safety and hope this matter is resolved quickly and peacefully.

We reject any attempt to take the innocent life of any human being, or to instill fear and terror into their hearts. Any such despicable act only serves to play into the agendas of those who seek to destroy the goodwill of the people of Australia and to further damage, and ridicule the religion of Islam, and Australian Muslims throughout this country.

7.05pm: Tony Abbott has tweeted a message of support for the men and women who have been assisting with the hostage situation today:

6.59pm: Another National Security Cabinet meeting is being held in Canberra this evening.

6.43pm: Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn holds a third press conference for the day, confirming that the NSW Police force are in negotiations with the hostage-taker. She also stresses that it remains a “sensititve situation” but that “all police resources are in place”.

“We have responded with police resources and other resources. We know that there are people who are being held… we are aware that there is a person who is armed also in the premises.”

Deputy Commissioner Burn also said that NSW Police have also set-up operation centres to allow access for partner agencies and the most resources possible.

“Our approach is to resolve this peacefully… our priority is the safety of the people inside the building,” she said.

“We have had 5 people emerge from the location – 3 earlier and 2 recently. Those people are now being assessed to assure their health is okay. The police will then speak to them.”

Ms Burns also confirmed that the NSW Public Transport system is working well and that Sydney-siders should go about their business as usual tomorrow. She has confirmed that the exclusion zone around Martin Place will remain unchanged until further notice.

NSW Police are asking for anyone with any further information to come forward and contact them.

The NSW police have set up a Hotline for anyone who needs information about the siege. Ph: 1800 227 228.

6.12pm: Prime Minister Tony Abbott provides an updated transcript on the hostage situation:

6.10pm: Reports of another captor being forced to make a phone call to Channel Nine News.

6.05pm: NSW Health confirms one of the hostages taken to hospital.

5.55pm: Channel Ten report they have spoken directly to the gunman who has made two demands. Police have requested that media outlets do not reveal the nature of the requests, so Mamamia has chosen to delete them.

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5.45pm: Channel Nine News reports that the identity of the gunman is known to hostage negotiators and police.

5.30pm: Siege labelled “consistent with a terrorist attack”:
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5.15pm: Police release another statement confirming they are “continuing… efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation”.

3.45 PM: Two more hostages – apparently young female staff from Lindt Cafe, ran out of the cafe.

3.45 PM: Deputy NSW Police Commissioner Catherine Burn addresses the media. Confirms that three hostages are now with police but says “we still don’t know what the motivation is here.” She confirms that police are now in contact and negotiating with an armed man inside the store.

3.14 PM: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten addresses the media and confirms he stands as one with the Government in addressing this situation.

3.40 PM: Three hostages emerge from the Lindt store. It is unclear whether they have been released or whether they have escaped. One comes through a fire door and the other two out of the main entrance, their hands in the air. They are unharmed.

12.51 PM: Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the media. Refuses to call this a terrorist attack or to speculate about the flag being displayed. He assures the public that they should trust the police to handle the unfolding situation. Says Government business will continue as usual.

1:00 PM: President Obama briefed on the situation by Homeland Security in the United States.

1.27 PM: All Sydney Courts are closed for the day.

1.54 PM: NSW Premiere Mike Baird and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione address the media. At this stage they are not on contact with the hostage taker.

12.14 PM: Security at Parliament House in Canberra increased as a precaution.

12.27 PM: Police arrest a man with a gun at Martin Place. It is later revealed that this is unrelated to siege events.

12.38 PM: People in the building above the Lindt Cafe are evacuated via ladder by Police, including children from a child care centre.

12.41 PM: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten releases a statement.

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12.00 PM: Channel 7 release an image of the armed man inside the Lindt building. Reports emerge that he may be using a female hostage as a shield.

11.51 AM: The NSW Police Force issue a statement and confirm they will offer more detail later in the day.

11.35 AM: Qantas and Virgin avoid air space in the CBD, the city is eerily quiet with only police helicopters overhead.

11.40 AM: NSW Premier Mike Baird releases a statement.

10.30 AM: The bustling Sydney centre of Martin Place was shut down. As was Elizabeth Street and Phillip Street.

10.40 AM: Reports and photos begin emerging of hostages pressed up against windows, with their hands in the air. One woman is shown miming slitting her own throat with her finger. A black and white flag with Islamic text is displayed prominently in the window, held by hostages.

10.55 AM: Channel 7 reported that there were 13 hostages in the Lindt Store who were being held by at least one armed man.

10.56 AM: The nearby Opera House was evacuated as a precaution after reports that an unidentified package was found.

11.00 AM: The Lindt CEO said on Twitter that there could be as many as 40 people trapped in the store.

11.15 AM: The National Security Comittiee of Cabinet meet in Canberra.

11.30 AM: Prime Minister Tony Abbott releases a statement.

9.45 AM: Channel 7’s The Morning Show broke news that a siege was underway in the Martin Place Lindt store in Sydney.

 

More to come…

Here’s what we know about the rest of the incident:

The people

The Lindt CEO said that he believes there are up to 40 people in the building. Both staff and customers.

The Police

The Police have issued numerous statements and have continued to keep the public and the media updated throughout the day.

The Flag that was held up.

The flag is not an Islamic State flag, but “the Shahadah flag or testimony of faith symbol”.

The flag, which is reportedly used by the group Jabhat al Nusra, reportedly says: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God”.

If you have any information about the situation, please do not call 000, instead ring the National Security Hotline on 1800 227 228

Our thoughts are with all of those involved and their families.

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