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Gunman, 2 hostages killed as cops storm Sydney cafe to end 16-hour siege

Gunman, 2 hostages killed as cops storm Sydney cafe to end 16-hour siege

SYDNEY: Amid a barrage of gunfire, police stormed a cafe in the heart of Sydney early on Tuesday to end a 16-hour hostage siege by an Iranian-born gunman. Police said three people were killed the gunman and two of the hostages and four others were wounded.

Police raided the Lindt Chocolat Cafe after they heard a number of gunshots from inside, said New South Wales state police commissioner Andrew Scipione.

"They made the call because they believed that at that time, if they didn't enter, there would have been many more lives lost," he said.

The gunman was identified as Man Haron Monis, who once was prosecuted for sending offensive letters to families of Australian troops killed in Afghanistan.

Scipione wouldn't say whether the two hostages who were killed a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman were caught in crossfire, or shot by the gunman.

One of the victims was Sydney lawyer and mother-of-three Katrina Dawson. "Katrina was one of our best and brightest barristers who will be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends" Jane Needham, president of the New South Wales Bar Association, said in a statement. The other victim was identified in Australian media as the manager of the cafe, Tori Johnson.

Among the four wounded was a police officer shot in the face.

"Until we were involved in this emergency action, we believe that no one had been injured. That changed. We changed our tactic," he said, adding that there had been a total of 17 hostages taken in the cafe when the siege began.