Five people have escaped the besieged cafe in Sydney’s financial district where at least one gunman has reportedly taken dozens of hostages.

Australian police said negotiators have been in contact with the “armed offender” inside the Lindt chocolate shop and cafe in Martin Place – but refused to speculate on his possible motivation.

New South Wales Police deputy commissioner Catherine Burn confirmed that several people “have now emerged from the location” where the hostage crisis has been unfolding.

“The first thing that we are doing is making sure that they are OK. We will then establish who they are and then we will continue to work with them,” Ms Burn said.

“We do not have any information that suggests that anybody is harmed at this stage.”

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.

A black flag with white Arabic text, similar to those used by Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, was also visible… see more

source: skynews