A major police operation was underway in downtown Sydney on Monday, where 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.
It’s believed at least 13 hostages are being held, according to Australia’s Channel 7 News. Lindt Australia CEO Steve Loane told news.com.au he believes there are 40 to 50 people inside the cafe, including customers and staff.
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, but it looks similar to the flag used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham.
The shop is located in the heart of the city’s financial district. Streets in the area were closed and officials were asking the public to stay away. Police officers were lined up outside the shop.