This post contains rolling coverage of the situation in Martin Place. Please keep checking back for further updates.
Warning: This post contains distressing images.
It has been confirmed that one of the fatal injuries at the scene was the gunman, Man Haron Monis, 50.
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.
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.
Reports that police in full bomb disposal equipment are going into the building, now clear of hostages.
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.
Gunfire heard at cafe – sirens ring out out and ambulances are racing from the scene.
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.
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.
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.