An unknown number of terrorists have taken up to 13 hostages in an armed siege of a cafe in Sydney, Australia. Some of the kidnapped victims have been forced to raise up a black flag with Arabic writing in a store window. Some have identified the flag as a Shahada or Black Standard flag, sometimes used in Jihad.
According to MailOnline, witnesses reported seeing staff and customers sobbing as they were forced to stand with their hands pressed against the windows of the Lindt cafe. At least two gunmen are said to be involved in the siege. One gunman is believed to have a shotgun and possibly an explosive device.
An Australian news network, Seven, has a building opposite the cafe, which has now been evacuated, after the alarm was raised about 9.45am. Before they left, Mia Burns, a news producer for Seven, tweeted the picture above with the caption;
'Hostages against the glass of Lindt café. Some are shaking and sobbing.'
Other buildings in Martin Place, including the nearby Westpac building, have been cleared. A New South Wales Police spokeswoman said.
‘We’re just recommending no one go near Martin Place at the moment.’
Martin Place is the area where the cafe is located, and it has been shut down with scores of police now surrounding the building. Currently, dozens of armed police have also sealed off the streets surrounding the site. Martin Place train station has been closed and public buses are being turned away.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the incident as "deeply concerning" in a statement, BBC reports.
"All Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner."