Two hostages died after the 17-hour siege of the Lindt Cafe in Sydney. The 34-year-old manager of the cafe, Tori Johnson, was shot after he tried to wrestle the gun from the hostage-taker when he began to dose off.

It is believed Katrina Johnson, a 38-year-old barrister and mother of three, died in hospital after she was caught in the crossfire when police stormed the cafe after hearing the shot fired. 

Fourteen hostages escaped in total. Three male hostages ran free from the building with their arms in the air at around 4pm, and they were followed by two female shop workers about an hour later. The rest fled as the cafe was stormed or were carried out on stretchers afterwards, with one hostage receiving CPR at the scene. 

The gunman, who was shot dead at the scene, has been named as Sheikh Man Haron Monis, who is notorious in Australia for sending abusive letters to family members of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He was also on bail accused of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and for 40 counts of sexual assault and indecency. 

The siege at the Lindt Chocolat Café, in Martin Place, began as people were heading to work in Sydney’s central business district on Monday morning (December 15). Hundreds of police set up an exclusion zone around the building and advised people employed in the area to work from home on Tuesday (December 16).

Chris Reason, a journalist with Channel Seven, which is based in a nearby building, used Twitter to describe the progress of the siege. Reason said that the gunman appeared to be rotating groups of hostages who were forced to stand at the window for up to two hours at a time. They were forced to hold against the window a black flag featuring Arabic lettering. It is thought to be a Shahada flag associated with Islamic and jihadist movements, but it is not the flag of the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “This is a very disturbing incident. It is profoundly shocking that innocent people should be held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation.”

On a more heart-warming side note, a humanitarian hashtag #IllRideWithYou went global on Twitter, offering Muslims a companion to walk them home or ride with them on the bus if they were nervous about a potential violent backlash.