Police storm Sydney shop after gunman standoff
A gunman, who burst into an Australian chocolate shop taking more than 15 customers hostage, was shot dead alongside two captives on Tuesday, after a tense standoff with heavily armed police.
The Australian authorities charged the Lindt Cafe shop in Sydney at around 10am on 16th December, killing the suspect known as Man Haron Monis.
The sound of gunfire was heard around the store, whilst explosions are believed to have been flash bang grenades, used by the police before they stormed the shop.
Tori Johnson, a manager at the store, was tragically killed, according to Lindt Chocolate Cafe Australia, whilst the other hostage to lose their life in the standoff has been identified as 38-year-old mother of three, Katrina Dawson.
Six people at the scene were treated for injuries.
Speaking at a news conference during the siege, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said: “We don't yet know the motivation of the perpetrator.
“We don't know that this is politically motivated although there are some indications that it could be. We have to appreciate that even in a society such as ours, there are people who would wish to do us harm.”
He later added of the victims: “These were decent, good people who were going about their ordinary lives ... who got caught up in the sick fantasy of a deeply disturbed individual.”
Monis was an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh known by authorities for sending hate mail to the families of Australian troops who had lost their lives in Afghanistan.
Born in Iran as Manteghi Bourjerdi, he migrated to Australia in 1996, and was involved once again with the law last year, charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife but had been freed on bail.
During the siege, hostages were seen in the window holding a black flag with Arabic writing on, and despite initial beliefs it was related to the Islamic State, these links were soon removed.
Meanwhile, residents in Australia rallied around the Muslim community during the hostage taking, with many heading to the micro-blogging site, Twitter, using the hash-tag ‘#I’llridewithyou’.
Garnering over 110,000 tweets in less than half a day, the message was offered to members of the Islamic faith, from individuals saying they would not be frightened, or hesitate sitting next to, people wearing religious clothing.
In September, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and, days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife.
The Lindt cafe is in Martin Place, a pedestrian strip that was revealed as a potential location for the thwarted beheading.