Up to 30 people are being held hostage by an Islamist terrorist in a café in the Sidney, Australia, financial district.
The gunman, apparently armed with a a pump-action shotgun, has demanded to speak with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, according to Fox News. He has also demanded a flag of the Islamist State.
The siege began about 9:45 a.m. Sunday, Sidney time (5:45 p.m. ET). So far, no injuries have been reported and five hostages have escaped.
Chris Reason, a local television reporter on the scene, said the hostages’ escape seemed to infuriate the gunman.
“Just two hours ago when we saw that rush of escapees, we could see from up here in this vantage point the gunman got extremely agitated as he realized those five had got out. He started screaming orders at the people, the hostages who remain behind,” Reason reported.
Two hostages were forced to hold up a black flag banner in the café’s window bearing the message: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger.”
The message is one of the five pillars of Islam.
The word began to spread on Twitter Sunday night:
RT @australian: Hostages holding up an Islamic flag during the Martin Place siege. pic.twitter.com/61CTNPwHRq
— nikkprecel (@nikkprecel) December 14, 2014
#estápasando: @BlogsofWar A man with shotgun is holding several people hostage in #Sydney: http://t.co/nYEaz3gjij pic.twitter.com/POfDUryDXz
— Fernando Fernández (@ffdezalcaide) December 14, 2014
Hostages in Sydney cafe brandishing black Shahada flags – identical to those used by ISIS. Our rolling coverage – http://t.co/f8dSKip6Ex
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) December 14, 2014
"@channeltennews: #breaking #sydneysiege : Pictures from Martin Place: pic.twitter.com/6xydy9A3tu"
— Lillian Saleh (@LillSaleh) December 15, 2014
Video | 3 hostages flee #SydneyCafe Monday, 2 from the front door – News 9 https://t.co/ZF05h1ckdX #sydneysiege #SydneyHostageCrisis
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) December 15, 2014
#Sydney: "Negotiators have had contact and continue to have contact" with the hostage taker: New South Wales police pic.twitter.com/LQSEioAgcn
— ST Foreign Desk (@STForeignDesk) December 15, 2014
Five free but an unknown number remain trapped in dramatic siege in Sydney: http://t.co/VUVPPrKuDc #sydneysiege pic.twitter.com/oHEoDf8r3H
— CNN International (@cnni) December 15, 2014
Breaking: Two more woman have escaped the Lindt cafe #SydneySiege pic.twitter.com/mtDjJilzR1
— BuzzFeed Australia (@BuzzFeedOz) December 15, 2014
This is the moment the last woman escaped https://t.co/QyaNJ4cRbf
— Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) December 15, 2014
Sky News: Hostage taker called multiple news orgs. Claims to have explosives. Made 2 demands, so far (ISIL flag & wants to talk to Abbott).
— Keith Fitzgerald (@keithmfitz) December 15, 2014
Seriously, “forgetting to bring your ISIL flag to your own hostage situation” has to go on a Top 10 dumbest things of 2014. #sydneysiege
Elf Scott (@scottsues) December 15, 2014
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