A hostage situation is in development in Sydney, Australia, with multiple reports from different news agencies providing differing accounts of what’s happening.
Business Insider reports that the hostage situation began unfolding earlier today in downtown Sydney at the Lindt Café. A man armed with a shotgun is holding the hostages, while police have shut down the area.
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) December 14, 2014
In one image captured by news cameras, hostages were seen with their hands pressed against the window, while a black flag with white writing — which appeared to be Arabic — hung in the window. The Guardian initially reported that the flag was the flag of ISIS, but Business Insider discounts that report, saying that the flag is a Shahadah flag — that is, the black flag of Islam.
At least one hostage is wearing the uniform of café employees.
As the situation unfolded, another camera caught two different hostages, also standing at the window with their hands pressed against it.
Terrifying siege in Martin Place. Those poor hostages. My @themorningshowon7 @sunriseon7 friends have been evacuated pic.twitter.com/cKGpPKoMHd
— Shelly Horton (@ShellyHorton1) December 14, 2014
A police spokesperson confirmed that a “police operation” is taking place, but have not officially confirmed that it is a hostage situation, as of this post.
“A police operation is underway in Martin Place, Sydney’s CBD. People are advised to avoid the area.”
Although a flag referencing Islam has been hung in the window, as of this post it is not clear if this hostage situation is an act of terrorism. ISIS has been known to be urging its members to carry out “lone wolf” attacks against targets in Canada, and Australian police claim to have thwarted a planned ISIS beheading, according to this Inquisitr report.
This is a breaking news story. More information will be provided as the story develops.