MOSCOW, December 15 (Sputnik) — Hostage-takers in the Sydney cafe demand to meet with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, local 2GB radio station reported.
Meanwhile, Abbott called the incident a "deeply concerning" in a statement. "All Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner," he added.
At around 10:00 a.m. local time (02:00 a.m. Moscow) on Monday, customers and staff were taken hostage by armed persons at Sydney's Lindt Cafe. At least 13 staff and customers are reported to be held inside the cafe in the heart of Australia's largest city.
According to reports, several hostages were forced to hold up a black flag with white writing in the window. A terrorism expert later told local 7News TV channel that though it appeared to bear a testimony of faith in Allah and the prophet Mohammad, it did not belong to the Islamic State (IS). The IS flag bears two different inscriptions, one inside a white circle.
Australian police classified the siege as an "armed incident" in a statement, but did not confirm the rest of the information.
The national security committee of cabinet was reported to have convened for an emergency briefing. The media have also reported the evacuation of the Sydney Opera House after a suspicious object was found.
Australian authorities issued the country's first high-level terrorist threat in September. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that an Islamic State (IS) leader ordered his followers to carry out a number of "demonstration killings" in Australia. The terrorists were reportedly tasked with randomly choosing a victim, wrapping them in the extremist group's flag and beheading them.