Police on the ground made the decision to throw flash bang grenades and storm the Lindt Cafe after they heard gunshots inside.
“As a result of an exchange of gunfire inside that premises police moved in,” Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said.
Two hostages, a man and a woman, are dead along with the hostage taker. Two of the hostages and a policeman have gunshot wounds. None of the injuries are life threatening.
Mr Scipione personally commended the work of those on the ground.
“While everyone might now second guess as to what has actually occurred in the last hours, well, they are the ones who had to make the decision,” he said.
“Our police had to deal with this incident. It was tough, exacting work. Many, whether they were on a point or whether part of a team, had to make that entry and deal with this situation.
“I want to point out they have saved lives, they have saved many lives. And to those men and women, all that were involved, we thank you.”
Police have established a critical incident and are investigating all aspects of the operation.
“At this stage, as I’ve indicated, we he have a number of people that are injured and certainly we’re working through that as part of the critical incident.”
The decision to move into the cafe was made by the police teams at the scene.
“These are the experts,” the commissioner said.
“What we don’t do is compete with those who have to make that call. They made the call because they believed at that time, if they didn’t enter there would have been many more lives lost.”
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