Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has paid tribute to the two hostages who died in the Sydney cafe siege, cafe manager, Tori Johnson, 34, and Sydney lawyer Katrina Dawson, 38.
Addressing a press conference, he described them as “decent, good people” who were “caught up in the sick fantasy of a deeply disturbed individual”.
The two hostages died with the gunman, as police commandos stormed the cafe in Martin Place early on Tuesday morning.
An investigation has been launched into the police operation which ended the siege.
Police are also investigating the motives of the attacker, Man Haron Monis – an Iranian refugee who was a known extremist and criminal – and how he got a gun.
Mr Abbott said Monis had not been on a terror watch list – something he said would be the subject of questions going forward.
Central Sydney was put in lockdown on Monday morning as the gunman entered the Lindt Chocolat Cafe and seized hostages. The siege ended as police stormed the cafe in the early hours of Tuesday.
The investigation – standard practice when police are involved in a fatal incident – is being led by New South Wales Homicide Squad detectives on behalf of the state’s coroner, and could take weeks or months.
At a press conference on Tuesday, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn would not say whether Monis shot the hostages himself.
Nor would she confirm media reports that cafe manager Mr Johnson was shot when he grappled with Monis, who was carrying a gun. But she said that “every single one of those hostages acted courageously”.
Asked if police stormed the cafe because of something they saw or heard from within the cafe, Commissioner Burn would say only that “shots were heard and an emergency action plan was activated”.
She said it was “extremely important that I do not say a great deal about the events of the past 24 hours” while the investigation is under way.