Australian commandos have stormed a cafe in Sydney, ending a siege by a gunman identified as an Iranian refugee who took dozens of people hostage.
Paramedics carrying stretchers raced towards the cafe moments after the commandos moved into the cafe.
Several people appear to have been injured while the fate of the gunman is not yet known.
The centre of the city has been in lockdown since the gunman seized the hostages early on Monday morning.
Early in the siege, hostages were forced to hold up a black Islamic banner at the window.
The cafe is located in Martin Place, a busy shopping area in Sydney’s financial district.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was “profoundly shocking” that people were being “held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation”.
Army commandos with assault rifles and wearing helmets and body armour could be seen piling into the cafe, tossing stun grenades ahead of them, and apparently opening fire.
Hostages ran to safety with their hands in the air. A man and a woman were seen being carried to safety by emergency services.
New South Wales police announced the end of the siege at 02:44 local time (15:44 GMT) in a tweet, promising details later.
The suspect, 49-year-old Man Haron Monis, received political asylum in Australia in 1996 and was on bail facing a number of charges.
The self-styled Muslim cleric was described by his former lawyer as an isolated figure.
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