Security around Indian cricketers has been beefed up in Brisbane owing to the hostage crisis…
An armed assailant was holding an unknown number of hostages in a central Sydney cafe on Monday, shutting down Australia’s largest city and raising fears it could be an attack by Islamist militant sympathisers.
Six hours after the mid-morning siege began, television showed three hostages running out of the Lindt chocolate cafe and sheltering behind a heavily armed, black-clad SWAT team.
Police said it was not known exactly how many more hostages remained in the cafe but it was not as high as the 30-40 that had been reported earlier. The remaining hostages were being held by at least one armed assailant, police said, but did not rule out that others could be involved.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has warned of militant plans to strike Australian targets, said there were indications the hostage situation at the cafe was politically motivated.
“This is a very disturbing incident. I can understand the concerns and anxieties of the Australian people,” Abbott told reporters in Canberra, without providing any information on the unfolding siege.
Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, is on high alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East.
The Reserve Bank of Australia said staff had been locked down inside the building, and were all safe and accounted for.
The cafe was directly opposite a commercial television studio and footage showed several people inside the cafe standing with their hands pressed against the windows.
11:31 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
In case of queries about Indian nationals following events in Sydney contact Dr Viond Bahade Dy Consul General at phone +61 481 453550
11:11 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Hostages seen running out of Sydney cafe
Hostages were shown running out of a Sydney cafe at the centre of a siege on Monday, according to Channel 7 live news footage.
10:49 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Indian cricketers’ security increased in Brisbane
Security around Indian cricketers has been beefed up in Brisbane owing to the hostage crisis in Sydney with the BCCI keeping a close watch on the unfolding events there. “We are constantly in touch with Cricket Australia top bosses. We are monitoring the situation closely and security of our players is paramount. The players are in Brisbane and everything is normal there,” said BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel. Read more
10:10 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Indian consulate shuts office in Sydney
According to reports, the Indian Consulate General’s office has shut down. However, there is no official confirmation as of now.
10:00 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Australian National Imams Council condemns Sydney siege
The Australian National Imams Council, commenting on the siege at a Sydney cafe on Monday, said it “condemns this criminal act unequivocally”. The joint statement with the Grand Mufti of Australia said that “such actions are denounced in part and in whole in Islam”, noting they awaited further information about the identity and motivations of the perpetrators. Read more
09:45 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Post by Lindt Chocolate Cafe Australia.
9:30 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Sydney incident is disturbing, says PM Narendra Modi
9:00 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Police had not had any direct contact with the hostage taker, We have moved to a footing that would be consistent with a terrorist event, said Andrew Scipione, police commissioner for the state of New South Wales.
8:50 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Australia’s major banks close Sydney CBD branches due to hostage crisis
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said they had shut their Sydney CBD branches on Monday after a number of hostages were taken in a central city cafe. “Due to the police operation in Martin Place Sydney, 12 Westpac branches in Sydney CBD will be closed for the rest of today,” Westpac said in a tweet. CBA and ANZ posted similar messages. Read more
8:49 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Australia PM says unknown if hostage situation politically motivated
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday it was unclear if the siege at a Sydney cafe, where hostages are being held, was politically motivated. “We don’t yet know if this is politically motivated, although there are some indications that it might be,” Abbott told reporters in Canberra. “This is a very disturbing incident. I can understand the concerns and anxieties of the Australia people,” Abbott said, without providing any information on the unfolding siege.
8:30 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
US Consulate near hostage cafe evacuated, security warning issued
The United States has evacuated its Sydney Consulate, which is located near a cafe in the city where hostages are being held, a spokeswoman said on Monday. The consulate has also issued an emergency warning to U.S. citizens in Sydney, urging them to “maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security”. The spokeswoman said a couple of essential personnel remained at the consulate but all others had been sent home.
7:10 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Airlines, regulator say Sydney Airport operating normally Airlines said on Monday that flights are landing and taking off normally at Sydney Airport, but a diversion is in place around the city’s central business district after reports that a gunman had taken hostages in a cafe in the centre of the city. The government-owned regulator, Airservices Australia, confirmed normal operations at both the domestic and international airports south of the city.
8:00 IST Monday, 15 December 2014
Live television footage showed patrons inside the cafe standing with their hands pressed against the windows. A black and white flag similar to those used by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria was also visible.
NSW Police tweeted: “A police operation is underway in Martin Place, Sydney’s CBD. People are advised to avoid the area.”
A couple of hundred people were being held back by cordons and the fire brigade’s hazardous unit was on the scene, a Reuters witness said.
The Reserve Bank of Australia, near the cafe, said staff had been locked down inside the building, and were all safe and accounted for.
Local media reported that the nearby Sydney Opera House had been evacuated after a suspicious package had been found. A staff member at the world-famous venue said she was still in the building but declined to comment further and police said they were still trying to confirm the incident.
Trains and buses were stopped and roads were blocked in the area, with train operators saying there had been a bomb threat at Martin Place.
Traders in currency markets said the hostage news may have contributed to a dip in the Australian dollar, which was already under pressure from global risk aversion as oil prices fell anew. The local currency was pinned at $0.8227, having hit its lowest since mid-2010 last week.
In September, Australian anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife.
(With agency inputs)