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Dramatic end to Sydney hostage crisis
02:32 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

The hostages who died are identified as Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson

All of those injured are described by police in stable condition

"It will take time to clarify exactly what happened ... and why," PM says

The gunman's social media postings reflect a radical Sunni extremist theology

Sydney CNN  — 

The deadly siege of a central Sydney cafe has ended but the investigation is just beginning.

Australian authorities stormed the cafe where a self-styled Muslim cleric had been holding hostages early Tuesday, killing the gunman. They moved in some 16 hours after the siege began, after hearing gunfire inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe, New South Wales police Commissioner Andrew P. Scipione told reporters.

Two of the 17 hostages initially held by the gunman died, according to Scipione. They were later identified as Katrina Dawson, 38, and Tori Johnson, 34. Other people were injured, including a police officer who suffered a wound to the face from gunshot pellets. All were described by police to be in stable condition.

Man Haron Monis.

“Understandably, there is a lot of speculation, but it will take time to clarify exactly what happened … and why,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters Tuesday.

What did the gunman want? Why did he choose the cafe as his target?

“There is nothing more Australian than dropping in at the local cafe for a morning coffee, and it’s tragic beyond words that people going about their everyday business should have been caught up in such a horrific incident,” Abbott said.

He offered his condolences to people caught in the attack and to their loved ones.

“These events do demonstrate that even a country as free as open as generous and as safe as ours is vulnerable to acts of politically motivated violence,” the Prime Minister said. “But they also remind us that Australia, and Australians are resilient and we are ready to respond.”

Gunman had violent history

The gunman was identified as Man Haron Monis by an official with direct knowledge of the situation. According to his social media posts, the hostage-taker appears to have embraced a radical Sunni theology.

Abbott told reporters that the gunman was already well-known to authorities, and that he had a “long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability.”

Before the raid, Monis had demanded a flag and phone call with Abbott, CNN affiliate Sky News Australia reported. He made the demands through hostages who contacted media organizations, Sky News reported.

Some hostages had also reportedly posted messages to social networking sites and the YouTube online video service. Police urged media early Tuesday not to show the videos.

Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron, pleaded guilty in 2013 to writing letters to relatives of Australian service members saying they were “Hitler’s soldiers,” according to Australian media reports.

THE VICTIMS

The scene in Sydney: Grenades and gunfire

How the siege unfolded

Hundreds of police officers, including snipers, surrounded the cafe in Sydney’s central business district shortly after the gunman took over the building at 10 a.m. Monday (6 p.m. ET Sunday).