Australian Police Confirm Sydney Cafe Siege Treated as Terrorist Attack

© Fotobank.ru/Getty Images / Mark MetcalfeArmed policeman are seen outside Lindt Cafe.
Armed policeman are seen outside Lindt Cafe. - Sputnik International
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Australia's New South Wales Police Force have activated Sydney's counter-terrorism unit Task Force Pioneer, which means that the city hostage situation has been officially classified as a terrorist attack.

Armed police are seen outside the Lindt Cafe - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW, December 15 (Sputnik) – Australia's New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) have activated a so-called Task Force Pioneer, meaning that Sydney cafe siege is now being treated by police as a terrorist attack against the city, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Monday, citing NSWPF deputy commissioner Catherine Burn.

The Task Force Pioneer activation means establishing a coordinated police operations center, and is only used when dealing with terrorist attacks.

The Task Force Pioneer, which was activated at about 4 p.m. local time (05:00 GMT), is headed by NSWPF counter-terrorism boss Mark Murdoch.

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At around 10 a.m. (23:00 GMT, Sunday), an unidentified gunman took about 10 staff and 30 customers hostage at the Lindt cafe in Sydney. The suspect was reportedly carrying a backpack and a device that looked similar to a suicide belt. Five hostages have managed to escape so far.

A black flag with Arabic writing saying "There is no God but Allah" was seen being waved behind the hostages in the cafe.

Australian authorities issued the country's first high-level terrorist threat in September. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian government has been issuing warnings that a terrorist attack could happen following the Islamic State militant group's threats to carry out a number of demonstration killings in Australia.

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