In a possible terrorism incident, at least one gunman has taken about 10 staff and customers hostage inside a cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.
A black flag with white Arabic Islamic writing has been held up at the window from inside the café by people who appeared to have been amongst the hostages and in great distress. A number of other people inside the premises could be seen with their arms raised.
Heavily armed police took up position around the Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s CBD at just after 9:45am local time and evacuated the surrounding area.
A woman is believed to have raised the alarm when she spotted a man in Martin Place carrying gun inside a blue sports bag. The man reportedly soon went inside the café, locking himself and the customers and staff inside.
Martin Place at the heart of the central business district of Sydney, Australia’s largest city.
The Channel Seven newsroom faces Martin Place and was broadcasting The Morning Show live when the siege broke. The channel ceased its live-streaming of the event for security reasons after a request by authorities.
The Seven newsroom and other business in the area, including Westpac and Macquarie Bank, have been evacuated.
Commuter trains which run under the area are reportedly operating once again after initially being suspended, but they are not stopping at Martin Place station.
The Sydney Opera House was evacuated soon after the siege broke, reportedly as a precaution in response to a suspect package.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to give a media conference on the event at 12:30pm local time.