Three died including the gunman when police stormed the Sydney cafe this morning where hostages were being held by an Islamic extremist. The gunman, identified as Iranian-born Man Haron Monis, held a hostages at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Martin Place for over 16 hours.

Hostages flee the cafeHostages were forced to hold a black flag against the window declaring the Islamic Shahada – translating “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger.” Located in the center of Sydney’s financial and business district, the siege shocked local citizens and worldwide audiences.

In the early morning hours, four hostages managed to run from the cafe to the safety of surrounding police forces. As they fled, Monis began screaming at the remaining captives. Gunshots were heard, leaving police no choice but to storm the cafe.

Approximately one minute of gunfire ensued. The gunman and two hostages died, while the rest were rushed to surrounding hospitals for treatment.

Monis’ past offences include sexual assault, sending offensive letters to Afghanistan veterans’ families, and being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.

“There haven’t been statements from overseas linking this to extremist groups outside the country — that is quite positive,” said Charles Knight, lecturer in the Department of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism at Australia’s Macquarie University. “The individual or individuals involved didn’t kill early, which is part of the pattern of some recent international attacks…. It seems to be shifting more into the model of a traditional hostage situation, rather than the sort of brutal attacks we’ve seen overseas.”

President Obama was briefed on the siege this morning with counter-terrorism advisor, Lisa Monaco. The White House has yet to release an official statement.

When not writing, Sierra can be found conducting experiments in the chemistry lab or whipping up delectable creations in her kitchen. With a passion for storytelling, Sierra puts her natural curiosity to use investigating enlightening angles for news and events here at The Oregon Optimist.