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Sydney Lindt Cafe siege: Outrage as onlookers pose for selfies

Just metres from where up to 13 people were being held hostage by a gunman in Sydney - onlookers have posed for selfies.

A number of onlookers were pictured taking photographs of themselves in Martin Place where the hostage situation is unfolding.

Several photos being shared were originally uploaded to Instagram.

One man uploaded a photo with a fire truck in the background and the hashtag #hostagesituationselfie. The photo was later deleted from his account.

Meanwhile in another snap, three men posed in front of the police tape marking off the exclusion zone, with one of them giving the peace sign.

Tourists and shoppers who then posted the on Twitter and Instagram, were met criticism and outrage, being branded 'sick' and 'shameful'

Among the outrage one person posted: "Why would you take a selfie at the Sydney siege? No respect for anyone if you do."

While others called it "Selfie shame".

Another posted: " Incredulous. There are people inside who are living each moment in a stage of abject terror."

On Monday morning an undisclosed number of people were being held hostage by an armed man in a chocolate shop and café in Sydney.

Staff and customers were forced to hold what appeared to be a black Islamic flag against the window of the Lindt Chocolat Café in Martin Place in Sydney's Central Business District.

Five of the hostages were captured on camera fleeing the building.

It was not known exactly how many people are inside the cafe, although it was reported that a Lindt executive had said there were 10 staff members in the venue.

New South Wales's Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed that the incident involved "an armed offender" and "an undisclosed number of hostages", and that they had not as yet had any communication or contact with the hostage-taker. On being questioned, Mr Scipione said there was "at least one armed offender", and the police were operating "on a terrorism footing".

The flag seen in the window is believed to be the Shahada, which carries a message that translates as: "There is no deity of worship except God (Allah), and Muhammad is the messenger of God."

Armed police officers were seen outside the café with their guns drawn, and a man with a backpack inside the cafe could be seen walking back and forth in front of the glass doors. The building it is in contains a number of state government bodies.

People taking selfiesat the area around the Sydney hostage situation. We have reached peak selfieand it is terrible.

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) December 15, 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was unclear if the siege was politically motivated.

"We don't yet know if this is politically motivated, although there are some indications that it might be," Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

"This is a very disturbing incident. I can understand the concerns and anxieties of the Australia people," Abbott said, without providing any information on the unfolding siege.

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