More than twelve hours ago, a hostage situation began in Sydney, Australia. A flag in Arabic was put up in the window as the some hostages held up the flag while others merely held their hands against the window. The flag is a Shanada, or an Islamic expression of faith saying that there is only one God, Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger.
The hostage standoff began Monday morning. In its first few hours, the remainder of Sydney’s popular attractions were closed as well as the area surrounding the cafe. Across the street from the cafe is Seven Network, one of Australia’s main television networks and some analysts say that this is no coincidence. Also in the same area is the United States Consulate. The Sydney Opera House was also evacuated after a suspicious package was found.
Five hostages were able to get away through a side door. Three people came out and later two waitresses escaped, clearly shaken from the ordeal.
However, the hostage situation is still ongoing. The hostage-taker has now released two demands, an ISIS flag and a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. When the standoff first broke, some incorrectly thought that the flag was ISIS’s.
The company in charge of the cafe has posted the following message on their Facebook page:
We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and kind support over the current situation at the Lindt Chocolate Café at Martin Place. We are deeply concerned over this serious incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the staff and customers involved and all their friends and families. The matter is being dealt with by the authorities and we are waiting for any updates from them.