An armed gunman took a group of people hostage on Sunday at a Lindt chocolate cafe in Sydney.

Via the BBC:

Pictures on Australian television show at least three people with their hands up against a window, and a black flag with Arabic writing. Hundreds of armed police have sealed off Martin Place in Sydney's central business district. New South Wales police have asked people to avoid the area.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott released a statement on the situation: "New South Wales Police and the Australian Federal Police are currently responding to a reported hostage-taking incident in Martin Place in Sydney," he said. "This is obviously a deeply concerning incident but all Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner."

Police would not confirm to media outlets the exact number of hostages or if there were additional gunmen involved, according to ABC news. Police are also investigating a suspicious package at the Sydney Opera House, which was evacuated.

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We will update this post as more information becomes available.

UPDATE 12:05 a.m. According to The Guardian, three hostages escaped and are receiving medical treatment before being questioned by police.

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Deputy police commissioner, Catherine Burn, said there are no more than 30 hostages being held in the Lindt cafe. Some images of the three hostages who have fled from the cafe have emerged.

CNN reports police are in contact with the gunman:

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Image via Getty.