2 Indians Held Hostage in Sydney Cafe Are Safe, Says Government

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infosys_employee_sydney_AP_650NewZNew (Sydney) :  Two Indians who were among an unknown number of people held hostage for over 16 hours by an armed man in a Sydney cafe, are safe, the Ministry of External Affairs has said.

Late on Monday night, the police stormed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe at Martin’s Place and freed the hostages; Viswakanth Ankireddy, an Infosys employee, was seen in video footage running out of the cafe to safety along with other hostages. The Indian government has now confirmed that there was another Indian, a man from Bengal, among the hostages and that he, too, is safe.

Earlier on Monday, during the hostage crisis, IT major Infosys said, “We are also in the process of confirming the whereabouts of all our other employees in the city. We are in constant touch with the local authorities and Indian Consulate in Sydney for updates on the situation on ground.” It did not name Mr Ankireddy, who has been working in Sydney for the last six years.

His father Eswar Reddy said in Hyderabad that he had received a call from the company informing him about his son being taken hostage. He said he then talked to his daughter-in-law in who told him that the hostages had been allowed to have lunch. He had also talked to the Australian police, Mr Reddy said, who “assured me that everything will be fine and there is nothing to worry.”

The man who held Mr Ankireddy and the others hostage was identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh who was facing multiple charges of sexual assault. He and two other hostages were killed and four other people wounded in the siege that ended late on Monday night. Monis was found guilty in 2012 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, as a protest against Australia’s involvement in the conflict, according to local media reports.