Armed siege at Hoyts cinema in Australia

Last updated 14:29 05/11/2012
Fairfax Australia

Reports from scene of the Westfield Warrawong siege where two men have barricaded themselves inside a cinema.

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Police have been unable to find two armed men reported to be holed up in a shopping centre south of Sydney, six hours after they surrounded the building.

But police said they will continue their investigation to identify the men.

Police said officers were called to the Westfield Shopping Centre on the corner of Cowper and King Streets, Warrawong, a suburb of Wollongong, about 6.10am, after security guards reported two armed men had broken in to the Hoyts cinema.

Police received the first call at 6.09am from the guards who said they had disturbed two armed people inside the cinema, the Illawarra Mercury reported.

They told police they had seen a gun, believed to be a rifle.

The guards apprehended a 27-year-old woman, before police arrested her. She is assisting Lake Illawarra police with their inquiries.

Just before noon, police released a statement saying:

"Information obtained at the scene suggested two armed men remained in the shopping complex.

"A command post was established and the shopping complex was closed to all staff and the public.

"A search of the complex by specialist police was unable to locate anyone."

Addressing the media after 12pm, police said there was nothing to suggest the men were doing anything other than committing a break and enter and there were never any hostages.

Subway owner David Vasquez told the Mercury he was inside just after 6am, when police came into the food court.

"Police ladies came in screaming out 'Is anyone in here?'. I said 'Yep'. They said: 'You have got to evacauate the building straight away'. I asked why and they said to me 'there is a gunman in the centre and we need to be evacuated'."

Witnesses reported seeing teams of heavily armed police entering the shopping centre after 6am.

Hoyts Australia this morning tweeted there had been a break-in.

PolAir, dog squad, state protection support unit, rescue squad, detectives and general duties officers were at the scene.

Roads surrounding the shopping centre were blocked all morning.

- The Illawarra Mercury and

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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