Sydney timeline: how the Sydney siege unfolded

The 17-hour siege came to a violent end, killing three including the gunman

File footage of Iranian refugee Man Haron Monis, the man responsible for the Sydney siege. Photograph: Reuters

File footage of Iranian refugee Man Haron Monis, the man responsible for the Sydney siege. Photograph: Reuters


All times local ( 11 hours ahead)

Monday, December 15th

9.45 Emergency services are called to the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Early reports suggest a possible siege with an unknown number of hostages in the building.

10.09 The first images are released, appearing to show the hostages inside the cafe with their hands in the air in surrender.

10.15 Two female hostages appear to hold a black Islamic flag, with Arabic writing on it, against the cafe window.

10.24 People in nearby buildings are evacuated.

11.18 Initial reports from the scene suggest around a dozen customers were inside the cafe in the moments before the siege began, with one man believed to be the hostage-taker.

11.43 A man claiming to be the hostage-taker calls Sydney radio station 2GB saying there are explosive devices planted around the city. Later, NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione confirms that the caller was a hostage.

11.49 Reports from the scene say a police tactical assault team has entered the building with gas masks and shotguns.

11.59 The first images of the suspected hostage-taker emerge – he is believed to be armed.

12.37 Australian prime minister Tony Abbott holds a press conference saying he is not sure if the siege is politically motivated and urges Australians to go about their business as usual. He adds: “I can think of almost nothing more distressing or terrifying than to be caught up in such a situation, and our hearts go out to those people.”

13.33 Updated reports suggest the number of hostages is actually far higher than first suspected, with up to 40 or 50 people now believed to be locked inside the cafe.

14.00 Police say they are still unsure of the gunman’s motivation. They confirm that there is one armed offender holding “an undisclosed number of hostages”, but say detectives are yet to establish direct contact with the gunman.

15.37 A breakthrough for police, as three hostages are released from the cafe.

16.07 NSW deputy police commissioner Catherine Burn says there is nothing to indicate that the hostages have been physically harmed. She says: “We now have numerous police working on who this person is and what those motivations might be.” She adds that the number of hostages is believed to be less than 30.

16.59 Two further hostages, both female members of staff, are released, bringing the total to five.

18.11 Prime minister Abbott makes another statement regarding the siege after chairing a meeting of the cabinet’s national security committee. He says: “It is profoundly shocking that innocent people should be held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation.”

19.45 The hostage suspect is “known” to Australian police and media, according to reports, but police have asked for his identity not to be broadcast.

20.30 Police commissioner Scipione suggests that the siege could last for days, saying the NSW police have many officers involved in the operation, but adding: “We are certainly looking to increase those numbers in coming days if this drags on.” He also states that negotiators have made contact with the hostage-taker.

21.40 The siege passes the 12-hour mark, with hostages continuing to be held by a gunman. Reports suggest the gunman’s identity is known to some media, who have taken the decision not to publish. He is believed to be a Muslim cleric.

21.51 The #illridewithyou hashtag, which was started to show solidarity with Australian Muslims, receives more than 65,000 tweets in three hours, according to BBC Trending. Tuesday, December 16th

1.10 Police say they believe the man who seized hostages is self-styled Muslim cleric Man Haron Monis, 49.

2.08 At least five more hostages flee the scene of the siege and sprint into the waiting arms of police – the first movement for nine hours.

2.20 Armed police storm the cafe amid a frenzy of gunfire.

2.45 NSW police confirm that the incident has concluded. They tweet: “Sydney siege is over.”

3.20 Police confirm that three people – the gunman and two hostages – have died.