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Sydney Cafe Siege Ends In Shootout

  • RFE/RL

Australian police say three people were killed, including the gunman, when gunfire erupted at a downtown cafe in Sydney amid a daylong hostage crisis.

Police stormed the cafe, where an Iranian-born man had been holding hostages for more than 16 hours.

New South Wales police said the 50-year-old male hostage-taker was shot and pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

A man, age 34, and a woman, 38, were also pronounced dead after being taken to hospital. Four more people were wounded, said the police.

Police also said that an initial group of 17 people had been held hostage.

There was a series of bangs and flashes as police broke into the cafe and some of the hostages were seen fleeing from the building as police moved in.

Police later said the sound of gunshots from inside the cafe had sent them into action.

The hostage-taker, who early in the siege forced hostages to hold an Islamic flag up to a window, was identified as 53-year-old Man Haron Monis.

Monis was born in Iran and applied for political asylum in Australia in the mid-1990s.

Monis was facing charges including sexual assault and accessory to murder in separate cases.

He had reportedly been convicted previously of sending aggressive letters to family members of dead Australian troops.

Speaking to ISNA news agency, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham condemned the hostage-taking. She said Australian authorities had been notified repeatedly of the "psychological [and] mental conditions" of the hostage taker, who fled Iran in 1996.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP
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