Sydney Siege Over After 16 Hours, Three Dead Including Gunman

Heavily armed policemen stand guard outside the building containing the Lindt cafe, where hostages are being held, at Martin Place in central Sydney December 16, 2014. David Gray/Reuters

At 2:49 am local time, about 16 hours after the Sydney hostage crisis began, police officers determined the siege was over. Police officers stormed the Lindt Chocolate cafe to rescue the remaining hostages, possibly ten in total. The hostages were seen fleeing the cafe after a loud bang and gun fire were heard and thick smoke covered the area. Three people died, the 50-year-old gunman, a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman. All died at the hospital following the encounter. Two female hostages and one male police officer were treated for non-life threatening injuries. Another female hostage was shot in the shoulder, she is also recovering at the hospital.

Police confirmed to ABC News that the gunman, Man Haron Monis, was killed in the gunfire. Monis was granted political asylum in Australia almost 20 years ago, and was a self proclaimed Muslim cleric. Several years ago, he made news when he sent hateful letters to the homes of Australian soldiers who served in Afghanistan. The gunman used the hostages as human shields throughout the day.

Hostages seen fleeing from cafe at centre of #SydneySiege moments ago

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) December 15, 2014

Sounds of "live ammunition" were heard after "heavily armed" police stormed the shop, the Associated Press reported. Helen Davidson, a Guardian reporter, noted that there were three bursts of gunfire, the first as long as 15 seconds.

Watch the moment armed police threw flash grenades into the Sydney cafe where hostages were being held #SydneySiege

— SkyNews (@SkyNews) December 15, 2014

The hostages had been in the store with an armed gunman for over sixteen hours, five hostages were able to escape in the first several hours of hours of the situation, including three men and two women. It is believed there were around ten hostages in total, an exact number has not been confirmed.

Several people were taken away on stretchers by paramedics, one person is being treated at St. Vincent's Hospital, Nine News Australia reported.

Sydney Morning Herald photographer Andrew Meares' photo of a hostage being carried out #sydneysiege

— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) December 15, 2014

People flee as explosions herd moments ago #sydneysiege

— Bill Code (@billcode) December 15, 2014

A bomb disposal robot was sent into the cafe following the police raid.

#SYDNEY: Bomb disposal robot reportedly going inside #Lindt cafe #sydneysiege

— RT (@RT_com) December 15, 2014

Families of those those held hostage gathered on the steps of the St. James court house.

Family members pacing the stairwell. Police keep ushering them back inside. They've heard the gunfire. #SydneySiege

— Airlie Walsh (@AirlieWalsh) December 15, 2014