Sydney siege: What we know

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 15 Desember 2014 | 20.01

Sydney's Lindt cafe siege is described by NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione as a hostage situation with one armed offender and an undisclosed number of hostages.

An image of the man suspected of being behind the continuing siege at a Sydney cafe. Source: Channel 7

AUSTRALIA has been rocked by a possible terrorist attack, with staff and customers taken hostage in a cafe in Sydney's centre.

As rumour and speculation swirls around the incident, here's a breakdown of what we know and what we don't.

Plain Clothes detectives entering the crime scene right near the shop with the hostages in it. Picture: Gordon McComiskie Source: News Corp Australia

WHAT WE KNOW

● An unknown number of hostages are being held by an armed man in the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Martin Place

● Police were alerted to the incident about 9.45am when a woman saw a man outside the cafe with a blue sports bag that appeared to contain a gun

● Five hostages have escaped the cafe, three of whom appeared to be Lindt employees. One male hostage has been treated at St Vincent's Hospital. A spokesman would not comment on his condition but said "he is fine"

● NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said tonight officers were focused only on Martin Place: "We're not concerned at this stage with any other (location)"

The moment when three hostages emerged from the Lindt Cafe, during a siege in Sydney's Martin Place. Source: Channel 7

Hostages hold up a black and white flag, believed to be a banner often used by jihadists. Source: Channel 7

● The hostages held a flag up to the window known as The Black Standard, which has been used as a symbol by Islamic extremists

● At least one gunman is involved, a bearded man wearing a headband

● The police have made direct contact with the hostage-taker. Police have asked news.com.au not to reveal details of the phone calls they have had with him

● Police said workers outside of the exclusion zone bordered by Hunter, Pitt, King and Elizabeth streets in the Sydney CBD were OK to travel home via public transport as usual. Martin Place railway station remains closed

● Nobody is believed to have been harmed

● Police have erected a large black shield to cover the corner of the Lindt store from view; at least 100 police and tactical units are stationed in Martin Place

● Airspace in Sydney is open but some flights are being diverted around the CBD, according to Qantas

● Police handcuffed a man 200m from the cafe siege but a police statement has since clarified the arrest was not related to the siege.

Tactical police have been called in to deal with the continuing siege. Picture: AP Photo/Rob Griffith Source: AP

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW

● We do not know the motivation of the hostage-taker, nor what he is trying to achieve. It has not been confirmed whether the incident is related to terrorism, but NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said officers had "moved to a footing consistent with a terrorism event"

● We do not know if the gunman has any explosives

● We do not know if the hostage-taker is acting alone. "We know it's at least one," the commissioner said.

● Commissioner Scipione said police were in communication with the gunman but refused to reveal how. "Suffice to say we have got contact with him," he told media.

● The commissioner also declined to confirm whether the five who had fled the cafe had escaped or been released.

● We do not know the name, age or nationality of the hostage-taker but he is known to police

● We don't know exactly how many people have been held hostage. Some reports suggest there could be as few at 13, while the Lindt chief executive officer told news.com.au there could be 40 to 50 people held inside, including staff and customers. However, a police spokeswoman indicated there were fewer than 30.

Hostages were pushed up against the windows in the Lindt cafe. Source: Channel 7

Keep up to date with this unfolding story here.


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