• Man in Sydney siege demands IS flag

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    SUCCESSFUL ESCAPE  One of the hostages runs toward police from a cafe in the central business district of Sydney on Monday. Five people ran out of a Sydney cafe where a gunman has taken hostages and displayed an Islamic flag against the window, witnesses and police said. AFP PHOTO

    SUCCESSFUL ESCAPE
    One of the hostages runs toward police from a cafe in the central business district of Sydney on Monday. Five people ran out of a Sydney cafe where a gunman has taken hostages and displayed an Islamic flag against the window, witnesses and police said. AFP PHOTO

    SYDNEY: A man holding hostages in a Sydney cafe on Monday has demanded that a flag of the Islamic State group be delivered to him and warned that four bombs have been planted around the city, a report said.

    A major square in the heart of the Australian city is in lockdown with hundreds of armed police surrounding the Lindt chocolate cafe, where a flag—black with white Arabic writing – was held to a window by customers.

    It appears to be the shahada, or profession of faith in Islam, and says: “There is no god but Allah; Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah.”

    Channel Ten said it had spoken to two of the hostages inside the cafe and the man holding them had made a series of demands.

    “Our #TenNews team have spoken directly to 2 hostages inside the café. They are confirming 2 demands from the perpetrator,” the network tweeted. ISIL is the old acronym of the Islamic State jihadist group.

    “He needs the ISIL flag to be directly delivered to the cafe; And his 2nd request is to speak to the Prime Minster,” it said.

    “They also state there are four bombs, two inside the Lindt café at Martin Place—and two further in the Sydney CBD [central business district],” it added.

    There was no confirmation from police.

    Five people have so far fled the cafe, three men some six hours into the siege and two women about an hour later.

    Australia has been on high alert after the government raised concerns that citizens who have fought alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria could return home radicalized and capable of carrying out attacks.

    The government in September raised its terror threat level and police conducted large-scale counter-terror raids across the country.

    AFP

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