Sydney Siege: Police Move In, Suspect Identified

Police have moved into the Sydney café where the hostage situation continues.

The Guardian reports that gunfire can be heard in the area and that one person is injured. As police stormed the café, hostages were seen fleeing the building.

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Suspect identified

Officials have identified the alleged gunman as an Iranian named Man Haron Monis. The BBC reports that Monis has been in Australia since 1996 when the nation granted him political asylum. He was reportedly out on bail and faces several charges. Police are keeping the area on lockdown.

According to the Daily Mail, Monis faces a charge of accessory to murder in connection with the murder of his ex-wife. She was reportedly stabbed and set on fire in her apartment in Sydney. He also faced sexual assault charges in 2002 after he was accused of luring her into a clinic and claiming her was a “spiritual healer.” In October, more alleged victims came forward, and police gave him 40 more charges in connection with the case.

Additionally, Monis was told to work 300 hours of community service for sending hate mail to the families of Australian soldiers who had died. He allegedly took the hostages in the café after he unsuccessfully tried to get the charges overturned last week.

Police storm Sydney café

The Daily Mail reports that police used guns and stun grenades when they stormed the café at around 2 a.m. Sydney time. Police moved in firing automatic weapons and throwing grenades.

Media outlets report that “fewer than 30 people” were originally taken hostage. Five hostages were able to escape several hours ago, and as police moved in, more hostages ran from the café. There are Twitter reports stating that emergency workers were performing CPR on at least two victims after police stormed the café. Both victims reportedly suffered gunshot wounds.

ABC news reports that police say the Sydney siege is over, although they would not confirm the alleged gunman’s status. Also the condition of the remaining hostages has not yet officially been released, although CNN is reporting that two are dead and three are in serious condition. The siege lasted for more than 16 hours.