SYDNEY, Australia – At least one individual with a weapon is reportedly holding numerous people hostage at a chocolate shop and cafe in Sydney Australia, and there is what appears to be a flag associated with jihad and the terror group ISIS in the window.
News.com.au reports that some of the hostages inside the Lindt chocolate shop are at the windows with their hands up, and a black and white flag believed to be a jihadist symbol is in the window. The news outlet also reports that the Lindt Australia CEO believes there are between 40 and 50 people inside cafe, though other sources list the number of hostages at 13.
Specific details are not clear, but reports indicate there may be more than one gunman inside. Police officers with weapons drawn are outside the café.
“The police operation is underway, urging people to avoid the area while it’s under way,” a police spokesman told news.com.au
7 News Sydney has been streaming continuous coverage from the scene, watch it here.
The tweets below apparently show police responding to the scene.
CNN has confirmed some details of the situation and obtained statements from the Australian Prime Minister and others. See the CNN story below for details.
By Dana Ford
(CNN) — A major police operation was under way Monday morning in Sydney in response to a reported hostage situation.
CNN affiliate Seven Network said that hostages are being held at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe.
CNN could not confirm whether that was true.
“All we can confirm at this time is that there is a police operation taking place at Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD (Central Business District). We are recommending that no one goes near that area, as we are trying to establish exactly what is happening,” Constable Sue Thompson, with the New South Wales Police Force in Australia, told CNN.
Seven Network reported that at least 13 hostages are being held.
Video from the scene showed police and emergency workers at the scene, where a number of nearby streets have been closed.
The Martin Place train station was shut, and some offices were evacuated as a precaution, according to police.
“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,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement.
He added: “We will provide regular updates as further information becomes available.”
No other information was immediately available.
CNN’s Hilary Whiteman contributed to this report.
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