BREAKING NEWS!!! Sydney Hostage Siege: Four Bombs Claim

Five people are seen fleeing the cafe amid reports a gunman holding dozens hostage is demanding a meeting with the Australian PM.

A gunman has taken dozens of people hostage in a cafe in Sydney's financial district.
Two Arabic flags similar to those used by Islamic State have been seen inside the Lindt cafe in Martin Place.
Channel Ten has spoken to two hostages who say the gunman claims to have four bombs - two inside the cafe and two in the financial district.

Sydney siege
 Worker (L) flees cafe and suspected gunman (R). Pics: Channel 9, Channel 7

Police are investigating reports the assailant has used hostages' social media accounts to demand a meeting with Australian Prime Minster Tony Abbott.
It is now thought police know the identity of the man - and that he was previously known to both the Sydney force and media.
Pic: Escaping The Sydney Cafe Gunman
Some of the hostages have spoken to their families on mobile phones - while five, three male customers and two female staff, have managed to escape since the siege began more than ten hours ago.
Journalist Chris Reason, who has a view of the cafe from the 7 News building, said the gunman was "extremely agitated" when the hostages fled.
"All the hostages now huddled at one end of Lindt Cafe, one is covering the window at that end with an apron," Mr Reason tweeted.
"From inside Martin Place we can see the faces of hostages - pained, strained, eyes red and raw. One young with head in hands.
"From inside Martin Place newsroom we can see gunman is rotating hostages, forcing them to stand against windows, sometimes 2 hours at a time."

Pic: Gunman Takes Hostages In Sydney
Australian police said negotiators had been in contact with the "armed offender" - but refused to speculate on his motivation.
The gunman - who has contacted several media outlets from the cafe and reportedly wants an IS flag delivered there - has been seen using hostages as human shields.
New South Wales Police deputy commissioner Catherine Burn described it as a "sensitive negotiation" and said there was nothing to suggest anyone had been harmed.
Food has now been taken into the cafe for the hostages.
Martin Place - home to the Reserve Bank of Australia, commercial banks and close to the New South Wales state parliament - has been closed off and up to 100 heavily armed police are surrounding the area.
Earlier, live television footage showed patrons inside the cafe standing with their hands pressed against the windows.
Pic: 'They Put ISIS Sign On The Window'
Hostages were also seen holding a black flag with white Arabic text.
According to reports, the gunman, who is wearing a black headband with white writing on it, walked into the cafe just before 10am local time.
A Lindt executive said there were about 10 staff and "probably 30 customers" in the cafe - but police later said the number was "not as high as 30", although they did not give further details.
The Australian Prime Minister said he has convened the National Security Committee for emergency briefings following the "hostage-taking situation".
"This is obviously a deeply concerning incident but all Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner," said Mr Abbott.
Mr Abbott said he did not yet know the motivation of those holding the hostages, adding: "Our thoughts and prayers must above all go out to the individuals who are caught up in this.
Pic: Man Came Face-To-Face With Gunman
"I can think of almost nothing more distressing or terrifying than to be caught up in such a situation, and our hearts go out to those people."
Police have now confirmed they are working "on a footing" it is a terrorist incident - but they remain confident a peaceful resolution can be achieved.
Several buildings in the area have been evacuated, including the Channel 7 newsroom opposite the cafe, and staff at the Reserve Bank of Australia are in lockdown inside the building. All are said to be safe.
Meanwhile, Sydney Opera House has been evacuated after a suspicious package was reportedly found not long after the police operation in the financial district began.
Police confirmed they were dealing with an "incident" there, but said it was not linked to events at the cafe.
In a separate development, a 25-year-old man was arrested on alleged terrorism offences in the city just a few hours before the siege began.
He was seized as part of "continuing investigations into the planning of a terrorist attack on Australian soil and the facilitation of travel of Australian citizens to Syria to engage in armed combat".
The arrest - reportedly as he left a prayer hall - comes after the Australian government in September raised its terror threat level and conducted large-scale counter-terror raids across the country.


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