After a 16-hour hostage standoff, police stormed a cafe in Sydney, Australia, to end the siege. The police action took place early Tuesday local time, with a spokesperson confirming that "the operation is over." Details about the standoff, the hostages, and the suspect are still being released, but we're breaking down what took place and what's been reported so far.
- What happened? A 16-hour hostage standoff took place, with one gunman keeping a group of people hostage at a cafe. It started around 9:45 a.m. local time, and throughout the day, the gunman reportedly sent video messages to local news outlets to outline his demands. He made bomb threats, requested a phone call from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and stated that he wanted an Islamic State flag.
- Where did this take place? Downtown Sydney, Australia, at Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Plaza, which is at the center of the financial and shopping district.
- Who is the gunman? Australian media identified the hostage-taker as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee. Throughout the standoff, he had different hostages stand in front of the windows, and two hostages held up a flag with the Islamic declaration of faith. Monis was reportedly killed when police raided the cafe.
- How many people were held hostage? Details are still being released. Five hostages managed to flee in the early hours of the standoff, but it isn't clear how many people remained inside. Reportedly, two hostages were killed in the final shootout, and four people were seriously injured.
- What's the status? Heavily armed police stormed the cafe after 16 hours, with paramedics on hand to help the hostages. Police stated that the standoff was over, but the status of the suspect is unknown.
- What's the #illridewithyou hashtag all about? Amid reports that women in traditional Muslim dress were being intimidated on Sydney's public transport, more than 90,000 people tweeted the #illridewithyou hashtag to show their support. The hashtag apparently came about after Twitter user sirtessa offered to ride with those in religious attire, tweeting, "If you reg take the #373 bus b/w Coogee/MartinPl, wear religious attire, & don't feel safe alone: I'll ride with you. @ me for schedule."
- What happened with Uber? During the standoff, Uber's pricing algorithm raised prices because of an increased demand from people fleeing the area, prompting backlash. The company responded by offering free trips out of the city's financial district and refunding some passengers.