Sydney cafe siege: Extraordinary images show hostages run for their lives as crisis unfolds

Armed gunman seized chocolatier Lindt in Sydney's central business district and is believed to be holding 15 hostages

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The Independent Online

Pictures of hostages fleeing for their lives and police swarming around a Sydney cafe at the centre of a hostage crisis have emerged. 

Around 15 people have been taken hostage by at least one gunman in the Lindt cafe on Martin Street, in the city’s Central Business District.

In dramatic scenes, five people - two women and tree women - were shown escaping the siege, which began at about 9.45am local time.

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Two people inside the cafe were earlier seen holding up a flag with an Islamic declaration of faith that has often been used by extremists, raising fears that a terrorist incident was playing out in the heart of Australia's biggest city.

Grainy stills taken from news footage appear to also show the armed assailant. Wearing a headband decorated with Arabic writing, he has claimed there are a further two bombs outside the shop as well as two explosive devices inside the building.

The hostage-taker has released a set of demands to police, who have asked media not to report on them.

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