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Thousands Lay Flowers At The Site Of Hostage Siege In Sydney

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife, Margie, pay their respects at the Martin Place memorial site on Tuesday in Sydney, Australia.
Jennifer Polixenni Brankin
Getty Images
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife, Margie, pay their respects at the Martin Place memorial site on Tuesday in Sydney, Australia.

A day after a hostage siege left two people plus a gunman dead, Australians left thousands of bouquets of flowers at a makeshift shrine.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

"Apart from city traffic and the clock marking the hour, there was almost complete silence around the shrine, which formed just a block away from the Lindt Cafe. Tears streamed down the faces of some of those watching and waiting. Police had to continuously move the crowd back to make more room for the increasing bouquets.

"Retired nurse Cat Delaney stood nearby for hours with a box of tissues, offering them out to those with red eyes.

" 'All sorts of people have been coming up to me for a tissue, a hug and cry,' Ms Delaney from Newtown said. 'This is what Aussies do, we look after our mates.' "

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife joined the mourners, dropping off flowers and stopping for a moment of reflection:

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reports that details began to emerge today about what happened after a gunman, who has been described as a self-proclaimed Iranian cleric, stormed the Lindt Chocolat Cafe at Martin Place in downtown Sydney.

The siege lasted for more than 12 hours before police in tactical gear moved in.

ABC reports that Katrina Dawson, 38, and Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, were killed along with the alleged gunman, Haron Monis.

The network adds:

"It is still unclear exactly how the two hostages died, though multiple sources have told the ABC that Mr Johnson tried to grab the gunman's weapon when he appeared to be falling asleep.

"Ms Dawson, who died in hospital after the siege, was reportedly shielding her pregnant friend from gunfire.

" 'These heroes were willing to lay down their lives so others might live,' Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said at a memorial service."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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