Sydney siege: Australian National Imams Council condemns what it calls criminal act

This screengrab taken from the Australian Channel 7 broadcast shows presumed hostages holding up a flag with Arabic writing inside a cafe in the central business district of Sydney on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
This screengrab taken from the Australian Channel 7 broadcast shows presumed hostages holding up a flag with Arabic writing inside a cafe in the central business district of Sydney on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - The Australian National Imams Council, commenting on the siege at a Sydney cafe on Monday, said it "condemns this criminal act unequivocally".

The joint statement with the Grand Mufti of Australia said that "such actions are denounced in part and in whole in Islam", noting that they awaited further information about the identity and motivations of the perpetrators.

An armed assailant was holding an unknown number of hostages inside a central Sydney cafe on Monday, police said, with local television showing some being forced to hold up a black flag with white Arabic writing in the window.

The Grand Mufti and the council pledged their "full support and solidarity with the victims and their families and aspire to a peaceful resolve to this calamity."