Police hold press conference on Sydney siege
Police hold press conference on Sydney siege BBC

Police officers stormed the Lindt cafe in Sydney over fears Muslim fanatic Man Haron Monis had begun to execute hostages.

A police officer was shot in the face during the storming of the Sydney cafe, around 16 hours after Iranian Haron Monis began the tense standoff.

The shot officer was a male and he was said to be in a good condition by New South Wales (NSW) commissioner Andrew Scipione, during a press conference. Two hostages were killed and four injured. Monis was also killed in the shooting.

"Events unfolding inside the premises led them [police] to believe it was the time. There were a number of the gunshots heard, which led to take the decision to enter," Scipione said.

"Seventeen hostages have been accounted for."

The commissioner did not say whether the victims were killed by Monis, or if they died in the crossfire, but the police chief insisted police action had "saved many lives".

The Sydney cafe siege triggered the biggest-ever armed response in the city.

After a 16-hour stand-off, it became clear Monis was losing control of the situation and five hostages made a run for it into the night-time streets of Sydney's financial district, into the arms of waiting security forces.

"Police have saved many lives. To those men and women: thank you. Putting your life on the line to keep us safe is a honourable cause," Scipione said.

A investigation has been launched, the police chief added.

He said: "We are dealing with a critical incident. A detailed, thorough investigation has already commenced. We will advise you as soon as we can.

"We should reflect on the courage [hostages] displayed during many hours in the room. We share the grief of the families. It's been a distressing time.

The authorities appealed for calming, insisting the siege was an isolated incident.

Scipione said: "This is an isolated incident. Do not let this incident bring about any loss of confidence. It was the act of an individual. This will not change our lives and the things we hold dear. We're Australian; we support mates."