Read all about the hostage situation going on in Australian cafe right now


Around 9.30am this morning Dec. 14th, a man witnesses described as wearing a headband covered in Arabic walked into a central Sydney cafe, produced a gun and now holding several people - about 15/20 - hostage inside the cafe. He later forced crying women to hold a black Islamic flag up to the window. He is believed to be affiliated with Islamic sect ISIS. Read full story after the cut...
From UK Daily Mail 
 
Fear etched into their faces, two young female employees have fled a central Sydney cafe more than seven hours after a terrorist armed with a gun took more than a dozen people hostage and forced crying women to hold a black Islamic flag up to the window.
A total of five hostages, including barista Elly Chen, have now escaped the Lindt cafe in Martin Place an hour after a male employee and two male customers scrambled from a fire exit and sheltered behind heavily armed police officers shortly before 3.45pm on Monday.
It is understood the hostages escaped from the cafe, rather than being released by their captor. One former male hostage has been taken to nearby St Vincent's Hospital, in Sydney's inner suburbs, and is being treated for a pre-existing condition. 
The gunman flew into a rage when he realised some of his captives had escaped.
'The gunman could be seen from here getting extremely agitated, shouting at remaining hostages,' tweeted journalist Chris Reason, who has a direct line of sight into the cafe from the Seven Network newsroom directly opposite and inside the police cordon.  
The light inside the building has gone off tonight, Mr Reason said, but police would not reveal whether it was a law enforcement or hostage-taker tactic. 
Police negotiators have learned the name of the man and have made contact.
This evening, Mr Reason said he could see the gunman rotating the hostages through positions in the store's window.
'From inside Martin Place we can see the faces of hostages - pained, strained, eyes red and raw,' he recounted. Food and water was also being delivered to the prisoners from the cafe's back kitchens.
Seven Network staff have counted around 15 hostages in the cafe, he said, rather than the 50 reported by Lindt Australia CEO Steve Loane earlier on Monday. 
Daily Mail Australia understands a 25-year-old female fashion industry worker and two female baristas aged in their 30s are among that number.
As scores of heavily armed police, clad in black, remained on guard in Martin Place, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione tonight said police would do whatever it takes for the situation to be peacefully resolved.  
On Monday morning, witnesses described how a man wearing a headband covered in Arabic walked into the cafe around 9:30am and produced a shotgun from a blue bag.
Shortly afterwards, as police surged into the city, hostages were seen with their hands pressed against the windows holding up the Islamic Shahada flag. It is an emblem of extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting the Assad government in Syria. 
The hostage taker is believed to have demanded a flag of the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria and to talk to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. 
A young female employee came running out of the Lindt cafe shortly before 5pm and was sheltered by waiting police
Ms Chen, pictured, was the fifth hostage, scrambling from the cafe with her hands in the air
Sydney was eerily quiet on Monday night. Office buildings went into lockdown earlier this morning, Martin Place train station - a central thoroughfare for workers - was shuttered. Events at the Opera House, such as a performance of the Nutcracker, were cancelled as the city icon was evacuated.

Hundreds of heavily armed police, operating under unprecedented Task Force Pioneer counter-terrorism protocols, were scouring the city, completely isolating the darkened cafe. 

In an evening press conference, state Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione sent a message of support directly to those imprisoned in the chocolate cafe, at the whims of an unknown quantity.  
'Rest assured, we are doing all we can to set you free,' he said, boasting that the state has the 'best police negotiators in the country' and that the safety of hostages was authorities' 'number one priority'. 
Police believe all hostages remain uninjured. '[And] if that's true, for that we're grateful,' Commissioner Scipione said. 
Detectives have refused to confirm what weapons the militant is carrying, or even if the militant is accompanied by allies. 

Queensland's police commissioner Ian Stewart said earlier on Monday that he had information an improvised explosive device may be involved, but state Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has tonight refused to confirm that. 
NSW Premier Mike Baird warned workers in the Central Business District that Martin Place and surrounding areas would remain an exclusion zone into Tuesday. 
'If you work in this exclusion zone, I'd ask you to work from home tomorrow morning,' a resolute Mr Baird told reporters.   

Monday's crisis began just hours after a 25-year-old suspect was arrested in a terror raid in Beecroft, a leafy suburb in Sydney's north-west, but police denied a link between the two events.  
Two men, believed to be customers, ran around a corner and hid behind heavily armed police after six hours inside the cafe

On Monday morning, columnist Chris Kenny, who was in the shop about 20 minutes before the siege began, said he understood the automatic glass sliding doors had been disabled after the gunman stormed the store. 
'I did speak to a couple of people who saw a bit more of this unfold than I did,' he said. 'One woman said she tried to go into the shop just after I came out with my takeaway coffee but the doors wouldn't open.
'So obviously whoever is doing this has disabled the automatic glass sliding doors to stop anyone else going in and she said immediately she could see there was a weapon. 
'The woman was quite frantic but very clear what she was telling (the police).
'I know the faces of the people who are sitting there enjoying a morning coffee.' 
2GB radio host Ray Hadley said he had three tense telephone conversations with one of the hostages inside the cafe and he could hear the gunman giving demands.
The hostage asked to be put to air live following the instructions of the gunman. However, Hadley refused saying he didn't have the expertise to deal with the situation.
'There are some people who are not well. They've been in there for five hours, they're distraught,' he said. 
'I'm not in a position to comply with requests that have been made, I can't.
'The media can't play a role in negotiating with people purporting to be from Islamic State holding hostages in a cafe in Sydney. This is the job of authorities to solve htis problem.
'They want us to say things that we simply can't say.'
Witnesses described the chaotic scenes in the legal, business and media centre as it was shut down and scores of heavily armed police surrounded the Lindt building. 
All of the chocolate chain's stores around Sydney were closed following the incident, in an act of camaraderie.

Hostages by the window
The terrorist