Hostages held in downtown Sydney

Published: Updated:

SYDNEY, Australia ( – A hostage situation was unfolding in downtown Sydney on Monday morning, as an apparent gunman entered a cafe and later a black flag with white Arabic writing could be seen in the window, according to multiple reports.

The Australian is reporting that eight hostages are being held inside the cafe by a lone gunman.

Australia has been a vocal backer of the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has raised fears of reprisal attacks everywhere. The building where the standoff is taking place reportedly holds the U.S. Consulate and offices of former Prime Minister John Howard.

Several people inside a chocolate shop could be seen through the windows with their hands held in the air.

New South Wales state police would not say what was happening inside the shop or whether hostages were being held. But television footage shot through the store’s windows showed several people with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the glass.

The footage showed two people inside the Lindt chocolate shop holding up what appeared to be a black flag with white Arabic writing on it. It was not immediately clear what the flag said.

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