Sydney Cafe Siege: Three Dead in Standoff

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Lone Gunman Identified as Man Haron Monis Pronounced Dead at Hospital, Along With Two Unnamed Hostages.

A siege that shut down a large part of central Sydney for more than 16 hours ended early Tuesday after two hostages and their armed captor were killed when police stormed the cafe behind a hail of bullets.

New South Wales police said the lone gunman was pronounced dead in the hospital following the shootout at the Lindt Chocolate Café in Sydney’s Martin Place district around 2:10 a.m. Two unnamed hostages, a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman, were killed in the shootout, though police didn’t say whether the victims’ wounds came from the gunman or from police.

Andrew Scipione, New South Wales’s police commissioner, said officers stormed the building after hearing gunshots from inside. After hours of fruitless negotiations with the gunman, officers threw flash grenades and fired automatic weapons into the cafe.

Mr. Scipione said there were 17 hostages—many of whom escaped—at the cafe, a popular stop for office workers and shoppers. The crisis began around 9:45 a.m. Monday.

“Unbelievably overnight we have lost some of our own in an attack we would never think we would see in our city,” said Mike Baird, premier of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state. “In the past 24 hours this city has been changed by a tragedy that none of us would have ever imagined.”

Early in the siege, the gunman, identified as self-proclaimed cleric Man Haron Monis, forced some of the hostages to film videos outlining his demands and to warn authorities that a number of bombs had been placed around Sydney. Mr. Scipione said no explosive devices were found following a sweep of the cafe.

On a website purported to be Mr. Haron’s, he is described as a Muslim cleric and activist unaffiliated with any organization or party. The website details a string of run-ins involving Sydney-based man and Australian authorities, while providing him with a platform to rail against perceived oppression by the U.S. and its allies, including Australia, against Muslims.

Australian police spent hours negotiating with the 50-year-old Mr. Haron. Over the course of Monday, at least 11 hostages managed to escape the cafe, several just before the police stormed the building to end the siege.

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