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A terrifying siege is continuing in the Sydney CBD with a gunman holding people hostage in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place.

• An armed man walked into the Lindt café in Sydney's Martin Place at 9.45am (11.45am NZT)

• Reports have varied all day about the number of staff and customers being held hostage. By the end of the day, police believed it was fewer than 30.

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• Reports that hostage-taker has a shotgun and possibly an explosive device

• Heavily armed police have sealed off area around the café

• In NZ, Prime Minister John Key says he is unable to confirm whether anyone involved in the central Sydney siege is from New Zealand.

• Five hostages have so far been released or escaped from the siege.

- AAP