Australian police say they are talking to the gunman who is holding hostages inside a cafe in Sydney. New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said the authorities' approach is to resolve the siege peacefully and police will work into the night if the situation continues.
We are talking to the gunman behind the hostage crisis: Australian police
Six hours after the hostage crisis began at the cafe in Sydney, five people managed to flee from the building. Live television footage first showed three men running from a fire exit of the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in downtown Sydney. An hour later, two more women wearing uniforms of the cafe were seen fleeing the building, taking the total number to five.
Watch: Hostages seen fleeing the Australian cafe
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu also confirmed the presence of one Indian among the hostages inside the Lindt café in Sydney. He added that External Affairs Ministry is keeping in touch with the Indian embassy as well as that of the counterparts. Safety measures, including evacuating the Indian consulate in Sydney and setting up a helpline, have been put in place.
Venkaiah Naidu: One Indian among hostages inside Lindt cafe in Sydney
Though reports suggested there could be more than one gunmen, television cameras only caught one of them standing by the window. The pictures showed hostages holding up a black flag with Arabic letters. Experts confirmed that it does not belong to the Islamic State (IS).
Sydney siege: Hostages held in cafe, Islamic flag seen in window
It all started during the Monday morning rush hour when a gunman took an unknown number of people hostage inside a downtown Sydney chocolate shop and cafe, with two people inside the cafe seen holding up a flag believed to contain an Islamic declaration of faith.
Watch:How the Sydney hostage situation erupted in a cafe