Aussie special forces end standoff with Iranian jihadist gunman

by Staff, |
Hostages run past a police officer (C) near Lindt Cafe in Martin Place in central Sydney December 16, 2014. | REUTERS/Jason Reed

SYDNEY (Christian Examiner) -- The Sydney hostage crisis has been brought to an end as Australian special forces stormed the Lindt Chocolat Café where earlier Monday morning a gunman walked in and took staff and customers hostage.

Man Haron Monis, an Iranian jihadist, had been wielding a shotgun and a machete while demanding to speak with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot. It has emerged that at one point he had demanded authorities give him an ISIS flag, indicating that at the very least he was inspired by the Islamist terrorist group currently fighting to take over Syria and Iraq.

The 17-hour siege finally ended when soldiers stormed into the café after cutting the lights inside, throwing flashbang grenades, and firing on Monis. The 49-year-old gunman's condition is unknown.

One of the male hostages was taken to St. Vincent's hospital and is reportedly in stable condition, hospital spokesman David Faktor has said, according to USA Today. Four other hostages were taken out of the café on stretchers, and another one was given CPR at the scene by paramedics.

Monis took over the café at about 9:45 a.m. Monday morning local time. He forced the hostages to press their hands up against the glass windows of the shop, and had two others hold up a black flag associated with Islam that reads "there is no god but Allah and Mohammad is the prophet of god."

About six hours into the tense standoff between Monis and the dozens of police surrounding the building, three hostages managed to escape. An hour later, two other women ran out of the shop to waiting police.

The escapes seemed to enrage the gunman, who was seen screaming at the remaining hostages and giving orders. As tensions mounted and concerns for the safety of those still captive increased, it was decided to storm the cafe to end the threat.

Monis came to Australia in 1996 and was known by police for writing hateful letters to the country's soldiers, calling them "Hitler's soldiers" and "murderers." He was charged in 2009 with using the postal service to harass, and was also charged in 2013 in connection with the murder of his ex-wife.

It is unknown if any police officers were injured in the raid. Some reports claim that two people have been killed, but no official reports have verified that information.