Hostage situation erupts in Sydney cafe

There’s a hostage situation unfolding at this hour inside a chocolate shop and cafe in Australia’s largest city, with the nation’s prime minister saying it may be “politically motivated.”
New South Wales state police say they are dealing with “an armed incident,” and say they’re trying to make contact with people inside the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney.
Television footage shot through the cafe’s windows shows several people with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the glass, and two people holding up what appears to be a black flag with white Arabic writing on it.
Zain Ali, the head of the Islamic Studies Research Unit at the University of Auckland, says it’s difficult to read the message because media images show only the lower part of the flag. But he believes it’s the Shahada, or declaration of faith, largely because a black flag with white writing in a contemporary context often contains that message. He says he can make out the word “Muhammad.”

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