Australian security forces on Tuesday stormed the Sydney cafe where several hostages were being held at gunpoint, in what police confirmed was the end of a standoff that had dragged on for more than 16 hours.
Heavy gunfire and loud bangs rang out shortly after 2 a.m. local time (1500 GMT on Monday), and moments earlier at least six people believed to have been held captive had managed to flee the scene.Medics moved in and took away five injured people on stretchers.
Media said two people, including the gunman, had been killed. New South Wales police declined to comment on the reports, and it was not clear whether the fatalities occurred during the rescue operation itself.
The suspect was identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault.He was also found guilty in 2012 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, as a protest against Australia\’s involvement in the conflict, according to local media reports.During the siege, hostages had been forced to display an Islamic flag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack.
"There\’s no operational reason for that name to be held back by us now," said a police source, who declined to be identified, when asked to confirm reports the hostage taker was Monis.