Heavily armed police in Sydney stormed a cafe early Tuesday where an armed self-proclaimed sheikh had held hostages for more than 16 hours.
Live television footage at the scene showed intense flashes of gunfire and the sound of loud ammunition rounds fired. Police were racing into the building with weapons drawn.
Just before police appeared to enter the building at least six hostages were seen running from the cafe.
Details remain hazy but the gunman has reportedly been neutralized:
"The gunman is down." - Australian reporter— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) December 15, 2014
It is not clear if he is dead or not. Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: We now have video of the rescue operation:
UPDATE: Two people have been killed:
BREAKING UPDATE SYDNEY: REPORTS OF 2 DEAD.— Breaking News (@NewsOnTheMin) December 15, 2014
Australia's Channel 7 reporting 2 dead, 3 seriously wounded following storming of Lindt cafe in Sydney Siege— Lisa Daftari (@LisaDaftari) December 15, 2014
UPDATE: It's over:
SYDNEY (AP) - Police say Sydney cafe hostage situation is over after more than 16 hours.— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) December 15, 2014
UPDATE: The gunman is no longer a threat. But the situation is still dangerous:
UPDATE: More on the gunman (via The BBC):
The gunman holding people hostage in a Sydney cafe has been identified as an Iranian refugee who was on bail facing a number of charges.
Man Haron Monis, who received political asylum in Australia in 1996, was described by his former lawyer as an isolated figure.
UPDATE: Buzzfeed reports Monis was in many ways a terrible human being.
UPDATE: Hard to reconcile this online letter with his alleged actions:
UPDATE: It's possible the gunman is deceased. Unclear at this time.
Update: 2 dead, possibly including gunman; 3 other people injured and in serious condition after #SydneySiege, 7News reports— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 15, 2014
UPDATE: Wonderful news:
Officials say no police injured or killed— Chris Reason (@ChrisReason7) December 15, 2014
UPDATE: He's dead:
UPDATE: A tragic development:
BREAKING: Police say 3 people are dead, including the gunman, in Sydney hostage crisis.— The Associated Press (@AP) December 15, 2014
UPDATE: Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione just convened a press conferee to confirm that an officer was in fact "shot in the face."