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Australian History

December 15, 2014 – Sydney, Australia, is gripped by a siege that lasts almost 17 hours and leaves three dead


The Siege Comes to an End as Hostages Run From the Building

The Siege Comes to an End as Hostages Run From the Building

Martin Place in the Sydney CBD is a popular plaza for both workers and visitors. It incorporates a range of commercial and retail businesses, as well as an amphitheatre utilised for corporate and community events, and is usually a bustling thoroughfare.

On the morning of 15 December 2014, this peaceful and previously safe venue became the scene of a terrifying siege which lasted into the early hours of the following day.

At around 9:45am, 50 year old Iranian cleric Man Haron Monis, who had been granted political asylum in Australia, entered the Lindt Chocolat Café in Martin Place.

All people inside were taken hostage. After some were seen with their arms in the air, the CBD went into lockdown.

Workers in surrounding buildings were ordered to evacuate, while a 150m exclusion zone was established around the cafe with specialist police outside the shop.

During the course of the day, five hostages managed to escape, but at that stage it was not known how many remained inside.

Several of the hostages were seen being made to hold a black flag with Arabic writing against a window, in a move which caused the world to fear it was an Islamic terrorist attack. The flag contained the Muslim testimony of faith.

The gunman ordered his hostages to deliver his list of demands, but at the request of police, newspapers declined to publish these demands.

The demands were later revealed to be the provision of an Islamic State flag, for the media to describe it as an Islamic State attack upon Australia, and a conversation with the Prime Minister.

Flowers in Martin Place

Flowers in Martin Place

The demands were denied as experienced negotiators recognised they could lead to public execution of one or more hostages.

It transpired that Monis was out on bail for numerous violent offences, including being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and had been accused of sending offensive letters to the families of deceased Australian soldiers.

Although he forced his hostages to wave an Islamic flag used by terrorist organisations, he acted alone and Muslim leaders in Australia condemned his actions.

The siege came to an end when armed police stormed the building about 2:00am the following morning after hearing shouting and shots from inside.

Two hostages were killed, Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, who tried to wrestle the firearm from the gunman, and Sydney lawyer Katrina Dawson, 38, who shielded her pregnant friend, while several others were injured. The gunman also died.

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

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