Police rescue personnel carry an injured woman from the Lindt cafe, where hostages are being held, at Martin Place in central Sydney..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran has condemned Monday's hostage siege at a cafe in Sydney that ended after 16-hours and with three people, including the gunman, reported dead in Australia's largest city.
“Resorting to inhumane methods and creating terror and panic in the name of the divine religion of Islam is not justifiable under any circumstances,” Iran's official Press TV quoted a spokeswoman from the Foreign Ministry as saying Monday.
Heavily armed Australian police stormed the cafe in a dramatic end to the siege in which three people including the attacker were killed.
Police have not publicly identified the gunman but a police source named him as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh known for sending hate mail to the families of Australian troops killed in Afghanistan. He was charged last year with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, but had been free on bail.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry's representative Marzieh Afkham added that Australian authorities were aware of the psychological state of the hostage taker, who had immigrated to the country about two decades prior.
Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, has been on high alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East or their supporters.
News footage showed hostages in the Lindt cafe in Sydney's central business district holding up a black and white flag displaying the Shahada, a testament to the faith of Muslims. The flag has been popular among Sunni Islamist militant groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaida.
Muslim leaders urged calm. The Australian National Imams Council condemned "this criminal act unequivocally" in a joint statement with the Grand Mufti of Australia.