Sydney siege: timeline of events

A group of people have been held hostage in Martin Place Lindt cafe. (AAP)

Here is a rundown of the events that occurred Monday during the siege in Martin Place.

  • 9.45am - A number of hostages held inside a cafe in Sydney's Martin Place. A black flag with Islamic writing on it is pressed up against a window. Hostages seen with their arms in the air inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe and the CBD goes into lockdown. Workers in nearby buildings ordered to evacuate the area.  
  • 10.14am - Police establish a 150m exclusion zone around the cafe with specialist police outside the shop. Martin Place train station shut down.
  • 10.45am - Sydney Opera House evacuated following reports of a suspicious package.
  • 10.47am - Transport NSW advises motorists and public transport commuters to stay away from the CBD.
  • 10.55am - The flag being displayed appears to be the Shahada flag.
  • 11.00am - Reports of up to 13 hostages inside the cafe.
  • 11.15am - US Consulate sends emergency message to US citizens in Australia.
  • 11.20am - Flights diverting around Sydney CBD but operating on schedule.
  • 11.25am - The National Security Committee of Cabinet convenes for briefings. 
  • 11.30am - Prime Minister Tony Abbott issues a statement saying it is a "deeply concerning incident" but reassures the public that security agencies are well trained to handle it.
  • 11.35am - A number of Australian Muslim leaders offer to help in any way they can. 
  • 11.40am - Channel Seven air footage of alleged armed offender.
  • 11.51am - NSW Police try to make contact with the people inside the cafe. They advise workers who are trapped in buildings inside the police cordon to stay away from windows.
  • 12.02pm - All public schools asked to assume "white level" lockout, which means no school group is to leave the school grounds.
  • 12.10pm - A man is arrested 200m from the siege with what appears to be a handgun. The arrest is not linked to the siege.
  • 12.55pm - Prime Minister Tony Abbott says there are 'some indications' it is politically motivated but urges Australians to go about their business as usual. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten offers Tony Abbott the Opposition's full support in dealing with the incident.
  • 12.57pm - US President Barack Obama is briefed on the siege by Homeland Security and Counterterrorism chief Lisa Monaco.
  • 1.05pm - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his country's "thoughts and prayers are with our Australian friends".
  • 1.30pm - NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says they had moved to a "footing" similar to dealing with a terrorist attack. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key sends a message of support.
  • 1.32pm - Lindt stores elsewhere around the country shut for the day.
  • 1.55pm - NSW Premier Mike Baird says Sydney is being tested today, but 'we will remain a democratic society'.
  • 2.17pm - The hostage drama causes traffic chaos across the CBD, with roads closed and public transport services disrupted. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi labels the events as "inhuman & deeply unfortunate. I pray for everyone's safety"
  • 2.30pm - Major banks including CBA, Westpac, NBA and ANZ close several CBD branches. The Reserve Bank of Australia, near the Lindt cafe, is operating with back-up procedures in place. Several retailers around Martin Place are also forced to close.
  • 2.45pm - Lindt Chocolate Cafe Australia thank the public for their support via Facebook, saying they are "deeply concerned over this serious incident".
  • 2.57pm - The Grand Mufti of Australia puts out a statement condemning the incident, saying "such actions are denounced in part and in whole by Islam." 
  • 3.14pm - Opposition Leader Bill Shorten calls for the nation to be united, saying Australians are shocked, but they won't be shaken.
  • 3.37pm - Three male hostages run out of the cafe.
  • 3.50pm - NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn confirms negotiators have spoken with a man holding the hostages. She says there are fewer than 30 hostages and none have been harmed at this stage. Police refuse to label the attacks as "terrorism" or speculate on how many offenders are inside the cafe. Police ask people in buildings facing Martin Place to remain there, while everyone else can go home as the working day ends.
  • 4.17pm - The National Security Committee of Cabinet meets. AFP chief Andrew Colvin and Justice Minister Michael Keenan are en route back from PNG to Australia.
  • 5.00pm - Two female Lindt workers leave the cafe.
Source AAP

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