Australian IT hub halted by siege

The IT business centre of Sydney, Australia, was caught in the middle of an international siege as the building that houses the offices of the Colombian Consulate were evacuated Wednesday morning after a reported terrorist invasion.

IT security software developer Eye-t Technology (Australia) Pty. Ltd. confirmed the evacuation of offices at 100 Walker Street, North Sydney, Wednesday morning after an invasion of the Colombian Consulate by armed individuals. Glen Towell, general manager of Eye-t, which is housed in the same building, said: at approximately 10.15 a.m. local time Wednesday morning he was approached by the building maintenance officer and told to evacuate the building.

Local media later quoted police sources as saying that the invaders were not armed and that the protest, while unlawful, appeared to be peaceful.

“We are located on the same floor as the consulate, but I heard no commotion,” Towell said. “The maintenance officer came in and told me there were people in the consulate with guns and that we would have to leave the building.”

Towell was given a few moments to gather his belongings before vacating the Eye-t offices. He waited for the lift in the corridor, but reported no unusual occurrences.

“There were about 15 people in the other offices on the floor and we were all told to leave. We still haven’t been told anything about what is happening inside the building, let alone when we might be likely to return,” Towell said. “I guess my messages will just go to voice-mail for the morning.”

According to a report on the Sydney Morning Herald’s Web site, the siege has been carried out by a group of 10 Australian Columbians, including four children. The group is protesting against atrocities committed against trade unionists in their homeland.

Local media later said the protesters agreed to leave the building at 12:15 p.m. local time.