Europe US Evacuates Consulate in Sydney Over Hostage-Taking Incident – Reports

US Evacuates Consulate in Sydney Over Hostage-Taking Incident – Reports

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki

The United States consulate located in the center of Sydney’s business district has been evacuated after a gunman took up to 40 people hostage at a cafe nearby, the US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday.

“I can confirm that the US Consulate General in Sydney has been evacuated, along with other buildings in the vicinity of Martin Place, as a security precaution. A small group of Consulate staff continues to work from a secure location,” Psaki said in a statement published on the website of the US Embassy in Canberra.
The consulate also issued a warning for its citizens in the Australian city, urging them to «review your personal security plan, remain aware of your surroundings including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates», the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
US President Barack Obama was briefed about the situation in Sydney and held consultations with his top anti-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco at the White House, US media reported.
Sydney’s Martin Place, a busy pedestrian street, has been on lockdown for hours after an unknown attacker took up to 40 people hostage inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe. Traffic has also been diverted as police secure the area around the building.
The police’s deputy commissioner Catherine Byrne added that no hostages have been injured yet. She also refused to speculate on how many hostages were still inside the cafe.
Witnesses saw a man carrying a bag and a gun walk into the cafe earlier in the day. Sometime later, police were alerted to at least three hostages being holed up inside the building. According to live video stream, the hostages held a black banner with Arabic writing, similar to that used by the Islamic State terrorist group, against the cafe’s window.
According to New South Wales Police commissioner Andrew Scipione, hostage-taking is not considered an act of terror.
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