NEW UPDATES ADDED BELOW
Hostages were being held inside a central Sydney cafe where a black flag with white Arabic writing could be seen in the window, raising fears of an attack linked to Islamic State militants. (LIVE FEED 2nd video below)
NEWS AU ARMED men are holding 40 to 50 people hostage at a cafe in Martin Place in Sydney. There are reports that two gunman have taken hostages, some of which are standing with their hands up at the windows in the popular Lindt chocolate shop, which has two or three entrances. There is also a black and white flag being held up in a window. It is believed to be the Black Standard, a jihadist flag.
Lindt Australia CEO Steve Loane told news.com.au he believes there are 40 to 50 people inside the cafe, including customers and staff.
Staff in shop aprons can be seen with their hands on the windows. There are also reports that there is more than one gunman. Police officers have guns drawn outside the cafe.
The chocolate shop is 30 or 40 metres from the Channel 7 offices so they have cameras trained on the building. Channel 7 has been evacuated. There are also reports that nearby Sydney landmarks including the Opera House and Art Gallery NSW have been evacuated.
There are State Government agencies in the same building and police have shut down traffic in a wide perimeter surrounding the incident. Surrounding buildings are also in lockdown.
BNI reader says there are unconfirmed reports that owners of the company just recently refused Halal certification.
Just heard a reporter in the live feed say “it is probably not a terrorist attack because nobody has been killed yet.” HAH!
UPDATE From: Daily Telegraph
Sydney catapulted into the horrific realm of Islamo-fascism shortly after 9.30am today when the ugly black flag of barbarism was displayed above the cheery Merry Christmas message greeting passers-by at the Lindt chocolate cafe in Martin Place.
Inside the popular cafe at least one man, possibly two, carrying a bag and a machete had pulled what appeared to one witness to be a shotgun on customers and staff and forced them to line up against the windows facing the central Sydney mall.
The lettering on the detested flag which has fluttered in the background at scenes of medieval brutality across Syria and Iraq are those of a Muslim prayer used by Islamists “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”.
In the Middle East, those who have not accepted this doctrine have been beheaded, sold into slavery, raped and defiled.
Seeing the grotesque message in Arabic script in the heart of Sydney’s CBD refutes the denials of all those who claimed that atrocities such as those which have shattered the peace in London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels and New York were unlikely to occur here.
Whether those who brought the black flag to the Lindt cafe are actually connected to ISIS doesn’t matter. They want to be thought of as belonging to the homicidal cult.
This may well be the “lone wolf” attack security authorities have feared. There are unconfirmed reports that as many as four packages have been located at sites around this city.
Whether this hostage situation is connected to an early morning arrest of a Sydney man on terrorism related charges is as yet unclear but police have confirmed that an individual alleged to be engaged in terrorism financing is in custody.
The impact on the siege extends well beyond the inner-CBD streets surrounding Martin Place. It has shaken NSW and the nation. It has injected a note of fear into all who visit city areas, whether for work or simply to view the Christmas decorations. It has been a propaganda victory for international terrorism.
Just as those who were in Sydney recall the atmosphere of fear and suspicion that pervaded the city 36 years ago when a bomb exploded outside the Hilton Hotel during the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting, so too will those who were in the city today always remember this morning of dread and anxiety.
Innocent lives are hanging in the balance. Christmas has been stolen.
Ray Hadley, a local radio host, says he was called by one of the hostages at the assailant’s demand. According to Hadley, the hostage-taker claimed to have “devices all over the city” and demanded to “speak with the prime minister live on radio.”
HADLEY confirms he is speaking to a hostage inside the cafe. He says the gunman is listening to multiple radio stations inside the cafe.
— Paul Murray (@PMOnAir) December 15, 2014
HADLEY says the gunman wanted the hostage to talk LIVE on the air. Hadley says he will not do that because he is not a trained negotiator. — Paul Murray (@PMOnAir) December 15, 2014
HADLEY has been asked to call the mans phone again at 1:30pm. He says he could hear the gunman yelling orders to the hostage.
— Paul Murray (@PMOnAir) December 15, 2014
UPDATE: Terrifying footage shows Lindt cafe hostage ‘running her thumb across her throat’ in chilling gesture during Sydney siege
Daily Mail A chilling hand gesture made by one of the hostages being held at the Lindt Chocolate Café in Sydney’s Martin Place has been captured on film.
As a terrorist forced dozens of people, both staff and customers, inside the café to place their hands on the windows, one woman appeared to run her thumb across her throat.
Channel Nine has reported that the hostages may have been directed to make the gesture by the gunman.
— Daily Mail Australia (@DailyMailAU) December 15, 2014
Workplace Violence in Sydney, Part 3 http://t.co/r5Opz0a89e
— sheikyermami (@sheikyermami) December 15, 2014
— 2nd Amendment Fight (@2AFight) December 15, 2014
UPDATE: 3 hostages reportedly have escaped, were not released by the Muslim terrorists.
Two more hostages have also escaped!
POLICE SAY: “We are being tested today in Sydney.”
Nothing to see here folks, just go about your business.