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Uber was criticised for implementing its surge pricing policy during the Sydney siege Reuters

Taxi app Uber is offering free rides to people wanting to travel out of Sydney's central business district after initially hiking up prices to a minimum of A$100 (£52, $82) to get a ride out of the area near the seige.

The taxi app was branded a "disgrace" for hiking up prices during the hostage crisis.

Sydney's central business district has been caught in the grip of a hostage situation, which has unfolded at the city's Lindt Cafe, involving one gunman and as many as 30 hostages.

As the ongoing siege was taking place, Uber implemented its 'surge pricing' policy, which is used to encourage more drivers to come online, to pick up passengers during busy periods.

Screenshots of the app, obtained by Mashable, showed Uber at times charging a minimum A$100 fare for its service, with one user forced to pay $145 for a ride out of the city centre.

Following the outcry, Uber has now said it will be offering free rides for those wishing to get out of Sydney's CBD and is offering a refund to anyone who was charged the amplified amount during the siege.

The company said in a statement: "We are all concerned with the events happening in Sydney.

"Uber Sydney will be providing free rides out of the CBD to help Sydneysiders get home safely.

"Our thoughts are with those affected and the NSW Police Force."