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Sydney hostage situation takes city by surprise

A hostage situation in Australia's most populous city went on for the better part of a day during the middle of December, as an armed aggressor held a small group of patrons captive for more than 16 hours in a downtown Sydney cafe. The incident is one of the more serious occurrences that has happened in the country as Australia faces a growing violent sentiment from fundamentalist fringe groups. Reuters pointed to two other incidents that occurred in previous months, including an attempt by militants to behead a random member of the general public that was stopped by Australian police. Another incident, a confrontation between anti-terrorism police and a young man who attacked them with a knife, ended in the teen's death.

A coffee shop in Sydney was the site of a recent hostage situation

Area partially shut down
The hostage-taking had a significant impact on the surrounding area in downtown Sydney, not only the coffee shop where hostages were taken. The cafe itself is located in a popular pedestrian area that Reuters said is often frequented by office workers on lunch breaks. Nearby businesses were closed and staff were evacuated thanks to the potential for more violence related to the hostage situation. Access to the area was limited at best as Sydney police attempted to secure the area and contain any further actions taken by the terrorists.

A swift end to the situation
CNN reported the standoff between either a single or pair of hostage-takers and area police forces ended as authorities stormed the building. Gunshots were heard during the confrontation. A small group of people, approximately five to seven, were helped away from the scene by emergency medical responders. While police had identified at least one of the suspects involved, it was unclear as to whether the man was taken off by paramedics or otherwise detained by police as the coffee shop emptied of occupants following the raid.

An eye on duty of care
The hostage situation in Australia proves that unexpected danger is simply a reality of life for businesses that have a multinational presence. Companies that dispatch staff to all parts of the globe, whether to work at an international office or to engage in negotiations with a partner organization, have to be responsible for those employees and understand what's happening in all relevant areas. Companies with strong intelligence, reporting, tracking and management functionality, as are provided by NC4 Risk Center, position themselves for better employee safety and greater success.


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