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One of the two hostages who died in the 16-hour siege of a Lindt chocolate cafe in Sydney, Australia, last month was killed by police bullets as officers stormed the cafe, coroner's officials confirmed Thursday.
Katrina Dawson, a barrister, was struck six times by officers' bullets either directly or from ricochets, one of which hit a major blood vessel and was fatal, a coroner's inquest was told.
The other hostage who died, Tori Johnson, the cafe's manager, was shot in the back of the head by Man Haron Monis, the self-styled Islamic cleric who took 17 hostages before he was killed in the police assault Dec. 16, said Jeremy Gormly, a private barrister serving as senior counsel to the New South Wales coroner's investigation, which opened Thursday morning.
Besides establishing the sequence of events, the inquest will seek to determine whether the police response was appropriate and whether the deaths of Dawson and Johnson could have been prevented.
"I want to assure everyone that we will do all within our power to undertake a comprehensive investigation that is rigorous, independent and searching," Coroner Michael Barnes said. "Would any reforms reduce the likelihood of a recurrence? These are questions that will engage us for months to come."
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— M. Alex Johnson