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Victims of Sydney siege hailed as heroes after they die protecting hostages

Tori Johnson, 34, the manager of Lindt Chocolat Cafe (left) and barrister Katrina Dawson, 38, who were both tragically killed in an armed siege at a coffe shop in Sydney

A mother of three and a man who died trying to save other hostages from an Islamist gunman have been named as the two victims of the Sydney siege.Katrina Dawson, 38, a barrister and mother of young children, and Tori Johnson, the 34-year-old manager of the Lindt cafe on Martin Place, were killed as police made a daring attempt to free those still held.Police confirmed that two hostages and the hostage-taker, Iraninan-born refugee Man Haron Monis, died and four others were injured during the operation that brought the 17-hour siege to an end.The two have been hailed as heroes for trying to save the others trapped in the cafe. Mr Johnson had tried to wrestle the shotgun from the 50-year-old self-styled preacher after he had fallen asleep at around 2am.Six people managed to flee after gunshots were heard coming from inside after a struggle between Mr Johnson and Monis ended in the manager being shot.

Police then moved in, with heavy gunfire and blasts from stun grenades echoing from the building.

Mrs Dawson, a respected barrister from Eighth Floor Selborne chambers, whose offices are opposite the cafe, was said to have been killed in the ensuing firefight while protecting pregnant friend and colleague Julie Taylor, whom she had been meeting for a coffee.

Mrs Dawson is the daughter of a prominent businessman, attended Ascham, one of Sydney’s most exclusive private girl’s schools, and topped the state in her leaving certificate before graduating from Sydney University.

She died of a heart attack on the way to hospital, while Mr Johnson, who had worked at the Lindt store for two years, died at the scene of a gunshot wound.

At a prayer service in St. Mary’s Cathedral just yards from the cafe on Tuesday, Archbishop Anthony Fisher said the two were heroes “willing to lay down their lives so others might live.”

The Archbishop said: “Reports have emerged this morning of the heroism of the male victim of this siege.

“Apparently seeing an opportunity Tori Johnson grabbed the gun, tragically it went off killing him. But it triggered the response of the police and eventual freedom for most of the hostages. The heart of our city is broken by the deaths of two innocents”.

Hundreds lay flowers and gathered outside the church at Martin Place near the site of the siege.

Jane Needham, the president of the NSW Bar Association, confirmed Mrs Dawson’s death, saying: “Katrina was one of our best and brightest barristers who will be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends at the NSW Bar.

“She was a devoted mother of three children, and a valued member of her floor and of our bar community. Our thoughts are with her family at this time, including her brother, Sandy Dawson of Banco Chambers.”

Deborah Thomas, a family friend of Mr Johnson’s, wrote on social media: “Tori Johnson loved partner of Thomas, son of Ken, siblings Jamie & Rhada. RIP you beautiful boy. We seek comfort in your heroic actions.”

His parents Ken and Rowena released a statement on Tuesday morning, saying: “We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for.”

Mr Johnson was remembered by former colleagues for putting others first.

“He was an amazing man,” former workmate Peter Manettas said. “He was a selfless person who always put staff above everyone.”

At least four were wounded, including a policeman hit in the face with shotgun pellets. Among the wounded was a 75-year-old woman who was shot in the shoulder, police said.

Two pregnant women, including Oxford University-educated Mrs Taylor, were among hostages currently being treated in hospital, and another injured woman has been identified as Marcia Mikhael, who was forced to send out a video plea detailing the gunman’s request.

Marcia Mikhael

Marcia Mikhael

In the messages, which were briefly uploaded to YouTube before the service took them down, hostages can be seen standing in front of a black Islamist flag and the Lindt cafe logo.

The four videos show female hostages reading from a script, saying the siege was an Islamic State attack on Australia.

The last video shows a hostage saying: “Our ISIS brother has been very kind to us.”

Ms Mikhael, 42, a bank executive, was buying a morning coffee at the Lindt Cafe when Monis slipped inside, locked the doors, and told those present they were being held hostage.

“Please help,” she wrote on Facebook from inside the café. “The man who is keeping us hostage has asked for small and simple requests and none have been met.

“He is now threatening to start killing us. We need help right now. The man wants the world to know that Australia is under attack by the Islamic State.”

She kept up her commentary on Facebook, stating that Monis was angered because his claim to be an Isil militant was not being broadcast.

She also said that Monis demanded an Islamic State flag, and to speak with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott via live broadcast. She said he had asked that “brothers” do not detonate two bombs located in the city. Police now believe that that was a hoax, and he was working alone.

But after over 16 hours, Monis was killed and Ms Mikhael – evidently shocked and crying with pain, having been injured when police stormed the café – was carried out on the shoulders of police.

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Suspected debris of missing Malaysia plane may have sunk – Australia

A photo taken on March 21, 2014, shows a crew member on a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft participating in the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean.

An international search has failed to find traces of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean location where two objects were spotted on Sunday. Australia‘s deputy prime minister said the suspected debris may have sunk.

Two objects were spotted on satellite images in the Indian Ocean about 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth on Sunday, Australian authorities said on Thursday. There have been no signs of wreckage, but the debris was considered a credible lead and sparked a massive search.

Bad weather hampered search operations on Thursday, but conditions improved on Friday. Despite clear weather and visibility, the search team failed to find the debris.

“Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating,” Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told journalists in Perth. “It may have slipped to the bottom.”

The search for flight MH370 has so far yielded no results. The plane, traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, around one hour after takeoff. American officials suggested this week that it changed course via the cockpit’s computerized Flight Management System, not by manual control.

The announcement made by Australian authorities on Thursday regarding the possible plane debris raised hopes of a breakthrough.

“Now it could just be a container that’s fallen off a ship. We just don’t know, but we owe it to the families and the friends and the loved ones to do everything we can to try to resolve what is as yet an extraordinary riddle,” said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during his visit to Papua New Guinea on Friday.

The search for the longest civil aircraft disappearance in modern history continues. Aircrafts and ships have renewed monitoring in the Andaman Sea between India and Thailand.

Australian, New Zealand, and US rescue forces will be joined by Chinese and Japanese ships and planes over the weekend.

Japan will provide tools to assist with the search, including two P-3 Orions based in Perth, said Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein. He added that China has deployed five ships and three helicopters to assist with the search.

India said it was also deploying two aircrafts – a Poseidon P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and a C-130 Hercules transporter – to join the hunt in the southern Indian Ocean and another P-8I and four warships to search in the Andaman Sea.

A number of merchant vessels have also participated in the search, according to Australia’s deputy prime minister. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott noted while in Papua New Guinea that “it’s about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the Earth, but if there is anything down there, we will find it.”

 RT News

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