SYDNEY, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Update 7 p.m. EST
The two hostages killed after a 17-hour standoff at an Australian chocolate shop were identified as Katrinia Dawson and Tori Johnson.
Dawson, 38, was a barrister, and Johnson, 34, was the manager of the Lindt cafe were the standoff took place. Both were pronounced dead after being transported to a hospital.
Update 12:00 p.m. EST:
The hostage situation at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney has ended.
Hostage taker Man Haron Monis was reportedly among two people killed after a 17-hour standoff ended when Australian police stormed the chocolate shop shortly after 2:00 a.m. local time.
At least three people, including one hostage, were injured in the incident. It is unclear if others injured were hostages or law enforcement.
Original story follows:
The man who took an unspecified number of hostages at a chocolate shop in Sydney has been identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian self-proclaimed cleric with a criminal record.
The revelation of his identity was made shortly before Australian police advanced on the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Place, a business district in Sydney, shortly after 2:00 a.m. local time Tuesday.
Monis (also known as Sheikh Haron and Mohammad Hassan Manteghi), 50, seized control of the chocolate shop just before 10 a.m. local time on Monday.
Lindt said there were about 10 employees and 30 customers inside at the time of the hostage taking.
Australian media earlier captured footage of hostages with their hands in the air and against a cafe window, holding up a black flag with Arabic writing that said "There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God."
Police in military gear had cordoned off the area and asked people to avoid Sydney's central business district as the situation unfolded. Five hostages escaped several hours into the standoff, reportedly angering Monis who screamed at the remaining hostages. More hostages later escaped with Australia's state broadcaster ABC reporting "a lot more activity," including flash bangs and loud explosions at the scene as of 2:19 a.m. Tuesday local time, while police moved in.
Monis's criminal record includes charges that he penned poisonous letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers between 2007 and 2009, a 2013 charge for accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and 50 recent charges of indecent and sexual assault.