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Sydney Hostage Standoff

Sydney Siege May Have Been ‘Preventable,’ Australia’s Tony Abbott Says

101: Jihadist in Australia 1:36

SYDNEY — Australia's prime minister said Thursday that a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe may have been preventable, as the chorus of critics demanding to know why the gunman was out on bail despite facing a string of violent charges grew louder.

Man Haron Monis, a 50-year-old Iranian-born, self-styled cleric with a lengthy criminal history, burst into a downtown Sydney cafe on Monday wielding a shotgun, taking 17 people hostage. The siege ended 16 hours later when police stormed into the cafe to free the captives, two of whom were killed in a barrage of gunfire, along with Monis. "This has been a horrific wake-up call," Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Macquarie Radio. "This was an atrocity — it may well have been a preventable atrocity, and that's why this swift and thorough review is so important."

Abbott has ordered a sweeping government review of the siege and the events leading up to it, including why Monis was out on bail and how he obtained a shotgun despite the country's tough gun laws. New South Wales Attorney General Brad Hazzard said he has asked the director of public prosecutions to review all cases where bail has been granted and where there are any similarities to Monis' case.

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- The Associated Press