Millennium Post

16-hour long Sydney siege ends, hostages freed

16-hour long Sydney siege ends, hostages freed
Loud bangs erupted as police stormed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in downtown Sydney shortly after five to six hostages, including the Indian, were seen running out of the eatery. One weeping woman could be seen being carried out of the cafe by the officers.

Just over five hours into the siege, five people, including a woman, were seen running out of the cafe. Two came out through the front door and one through the fire escape. It is still not known whether they were freed or escaped.

The siege began after 9 AM local time and was continued well past midnight with Australian media identifying the gunman as Haron Monis, who was granted political asylum in Australia.

The 50-year-old was described by his former lawyer as an isolated figure, who was acting alone.
The gunman, who arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1996, achieved notoriety after he sent letters to the families of Australian soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan, accusing them of being murderers.

In November last year, he was charged with being an accessory before and after the murder of his ex-wife, who was allegedly stabbed and set alight in her apartment complex.

Terrified hostages cowered inside the cafe with an Islamic flag displayed against a window. The siege sparked a security lockdown in an area which is home to government and corporate headquarters.

The black and white flag black with white Arabic writing - held to a window by customers appeared to be the shahada, or profession of faith in Islam, and read: “There is no god but Allah; Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah.”

Australian authorities have conveyed to the Indian government that the team’s security has been enhanced.

Soon after the hostage taking incident, authorities sealed off surrounding streets, evacuated people from buildings, and suspended rail services following the siege in the capital of New South Wales (NSW).

Australia has been on high alert after the government raised concerns that citizens who have fought alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria could return home radicalised and capable of carrying out attacks.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott convened a national security meeting to deal with the “disturbing” developments, suggesting only one person was responsible for the Lindt cafe incident.

“We don’t yet know the motivation of the perpetrator, we don’t know whether this is politically motivated although obviously there are some indications that it could be,” he said.

“The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people out of being themselves
At least two people were reported to be injured. Ambulances raced to the scene and gurneys were wheeled in by paramedics. Some of the law-enforcement officers at the scene wore heavy protective outfits of bomb-disposal technicians.

Obama, Cameron briefed on Sydney siege

United States President Barack Obama  and British Prime Minister David Cameron were briefed about the Sydney hostage situation. A White House official on Sunday said that the US President Barack Obama hadbeen briefed about the situation at a cafe in Sydney where hostages were being held and an Islamic flag had been displayed. Lisa Monaco, the president’s top counter-terrorism advisor, had spoken to Obama about events in the Australian city, the White House official said.

British prime minister David Cameron used social media to say he had been briefed on the situation and said it was “deeply concerning”.

After Sydney Siege, #illridewithyou Goes Viral

The hashtag #illridewithyou” started trending worldwide soon after a moving gesture by a woman in Australia as a grave hostage crisis unfolded in Sydney on Monday. As reports suggested that Muslims in Australia were worried about a backlash on public transport after an armed man took people hostage inside a cafe and forced them to hold an Islamic flag against the window, many in the country used the hashtag to reassure the Muslim people of the country.

The #illridewithyou hashtage trend was started by a woman with the user name @sirtessa, whose friend saw a Muslim woman on a train in Sydney quietly take off her hijab or head covering and told her, “No, if you want to wear it, then wear it. I’ll walk with you.”

Uber backtracks on price hikes

The cab-hailing company Uber was promising free rides and refunds on Monday for people fleeing central Sydney after coming under criticism for hiking prices during a hostage crisis that was unfolding there. Technology news website Mashable reported that Uber was briefly charging customers a minimum fare of 100 Australian dollars ($82) and four times the usual per-mile rate to leave the city center.

Uber said on its smartphone app that the rates had been increased because “Demand is off the charts!” according to Mashable. But Uber, which offers a service based on hailing taxis from its app, quickly backtracked after an outcry on social media.



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