Australian flags at half-mast as residents in UAE come to terms with Sydney siege

One Australian expatriate said a book of condolence should be opened at the embassy in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Australian flags at the country’s embassy and the ambassador’s residence are flying at half mast in memory of the hostages who lost their lives in a siege by a gunman in Sydney on Monday.

Australian expatriates in the UAE were shaken by the 16-hour siege at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place that left three people dead, including the gunman, an Iranian political refugee.

“I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I saw the footage,” said James Anderson, 30, from Brisbane. “My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones in the attack.”

Mr Anderson has called for a book of condolence to be opened at the embassy in Abu Dhabi to allow Australians to leave messages of support for the families affected.

“In whatever small way we can, offering our support would be good,” he said.

“I know many people use social media to express their condolences but something we could leave messages on would be more personal.”

Mr Anderson said he felt the attack was an isolated incident. “I’m not sure there can be much done against an individual who is hellbent on hurting people,” he said.

“It did come as a shock to see that happening in Sydney, and I hope and pray that we don’t have to go through anything like that again.”

The siege began just before 10am Australian time on Monday when police were called to the cafe in Sydney’s central business district.

A number of hostages managed to escape after the gunman, Man Haron Monis, 50, had disrupted their morning routines.

Monis was on bail for a string of violent offences, including being an accessory to the murder of his former wife.

At 10.10am television footage showed two hostages holding up a black flag with the Shahada written in Arabic.

The Shahada is an Islamic creed declaring belief in Allah.

Under the cover of darkness, at 2.10am local time, police stormed the cafe to end the siege.

Two hostages, Tori Johnson, 34, who worked at the cafe, and Katrina Dawson, 38, died in the raid, along with Monis. Four people were injured.

nhanif@thenational.ae

Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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