SIDNEY SIEGE OVER

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15.12.14 – Sputnik

The police operation to rescue hostages from the Lindt cafe in Sydney is over with three people confirmed dead and four injured.

MOSCOW, December 15 (Sputnik) — Australian police say the hostage rescue operation has ended with three people dead.

Gunfire erupted 2 a.m. local time (3:00 p.m. GMT on Monday) at the Lindt cafe in Sydney where a gunman was holding an unknown number of hostages.

Earlier several people had managed to escape the cafe.

A swarm of heavily armed police stormed the downtown cafe in an attempt to free the hostages.

Medics moved in and took away several injured people on stretchers, but it was not clear whether they included the gunman who had been named by a police source only minutes earlier as Man Haron Monis.

The NSW police confirmed via Twitter “the operation is over” but would not release any further details.

After the police moved in, one weeping woman was helped out by the officers and at least two other people were wheeled out on stretchers, Associated Press reports.

Police later officially confirmed the identity of the assailant as Man Haron Monis, a 49-year old Iranian refugee and self-styled Sheikh Haron, who is facing dozens of charges of sexual assault, Retures reported citing a police source.

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Police identify Sydney assailant as Iranian refugee facing sexual assault charges. http://reut.rs/1zohrLQ 

Monis, also known as Manteghi Boroujerdi and Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, was found guilty of sending extremely offensive and threatening letters to relatives of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and victims of terrorism, according to media reports.

Australia’s New South Wales Police Force have confirmed the death of three people including the gunman, who died in hopital. The other two casualties include a 34-year old man and a 38-year old woman, who were fatally wounded while held hostage in the cafe and pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital, police stated at a press conference.

Four hostages were injured during a police recue operation, according to the police statement;  two women in non-life threatening condition, a woman shot in the shoulder, and a male police officer suffering from face wounds.

The police made a call to storm the Lindt cafe after hearing shots inside, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said, adding that a critical incident investigation has been launched.

“We need to actually find out what’s happened here and what’s happened inside that cafe. It’s not time to speculate or to develop theories. We are going to work through facts and we will advise you as soon as we can,” the Guardian cited him as saying.

In repsonse to a question regarding whether the hostages were shot by the gunman or by the police, Scipione did not provide a clear answer.

“Again, as a result of an exchange of gunfire inside those premises, police moved in. At this stage as I’ve indicated we have a number of people that are injured and certainly we’re working through that as part of the critical incident,” he said.

The police estimate that there were 17 hostages held at the cafe during the seige.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott released a statement following the Sydney siege, Mirror reported. “The National Security Committee of Cabinet will meet shortly to review the situation,” Prime Minister was quoted as saying.

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