Hostage situation unfolds in Sydney

A major police operation was under way Monday in Sydney in response to a hostage situation.
CNN affiliate Seven Network said that at least 13 people are being held at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe.

It published a photograph of people inside the cafe holding a black flag with Arabic writing on it. The flag reads: “There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters that authorities do not yet know the motivation of the person responsible for the ongoing hostage situation.

We don’t know whether this is politically motivated, although obviously there are some indications that it could be,” he said.
The Prime Minister added: “The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people out of being themselves. Australia is a peaceful, open and generous society. Nothing should ever change that.”
He said more information would be released as it becomes available.
Two U.S. officials briefed on the incident said that it was unclear exactly how many hostages are being held. There is at least one armed suspect involved, and so far, no known motive, they said.
The cafe is at Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD (Central Business District).
Video from the scene showed police and emergency workers at the scene, where a number of nearby streets have been closed.
The Martin Place train station was shut, and some offices were evacuated as a precaution, according to police. They urged people to stay away.

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Walter Skinner

Walter Skinner joined the Pluto Daily in 2012 and has covered news from around the world.