Hostage situation unfolds at busy Martin Place cafe in Sydney

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An armed hostage situation is unfolding at a busy cafe in Sydney's Martin Place.

*Update: A further two hostages have been released from the crisis situation at the Lindt Cafe on Martin Place, escaping through the front door.

NSW Police confirm that three hostages have been released from the Lindt Cage, shielded by heavily armed police.

Some hostages have been photographed standing in the window of the popular Lindt chocolate shop holding a black and white flag up believed to be the Black Standard, a jihadist flag and not the Isis flag as previously reported.

Reports are in that the whole of Martin Place, one of the CBD’s busiest strips, has now been evacuated. Martin Place trains have halted for the time being.

Armed police have guns drawn outside the Lindt shop.

The shop’s glass doors have been disabled.

Channel 7 is reporting that the man may also be carrying explosives.

It is not yet confirmed how many hostages are being held, with Lindt Australia CEO Steve Loane telling some news outlets he believes the number to be 40 to 50.

Earlier today, at least one person suspected of terror offences was charged in north west Sydney.

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