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Sydney siege café reopens with memorials to victims

The Sydney café which became the center of a deadly siege last year has reopened. Two people were killed after an alleged "Islamic State" supporter held 17 hostages for 16 hours.

Flower tributes in Sydney

Thousands of mourners left flowers in tribute to Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson in December

The Lindt Chocolate café was reopened on Friday by Joel Hart, a member of staff who was among those held hostage on December 15 and 16, 2014. Permanent plaques honoring the two victims, 38-year-old attorney Katrina Dawson and 34-year-old café manager Tori Johnson, were also unveiled.

New South Wales

Coroner's Court found in January

that Tori Johnson was killed when he was shot in the back of the head by Gunman Man Horan Monis with a sawn-off shotgun. He was made to kneel on the floor just moments after several hostages fled the cafe.

Katrina Dawson was killed shortly afterwards by fragments of a police bullet after forces stormed the café.

'The city was tested'

Steve Loane, Lindt Australia's CEO, said in a statement on Thursdayt hat reopening the cafe was the right thing to do.

New South Wales state Premier Mike Baird said it symbolized the importance of moving forward.

"It's a difficult day, but in many respects a hopeful day," Baird said. "The city was tested, it was challenged, but today is a strong reminder that we march forward."

Dozens of customers gathered in front of the café ahead of its reopening. Many brought flowers in memory of the victims.

Iranian-born Monis, who was killed when police stormed the café, had a history of religious activism and was facing various criminal charges. The self-styled sheikh also claimed allegiance to the "Islamic State" militia.

Anti-terror law review

The fatal siege has prompted Australia to implement tighter immigration controls as well as a review of anti-terror laws.

Following the attack, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said "the system" had let the nation down by allowing a "monster" to launch a deadly attack on the Sydney café.

"Plainly, this monster should not have been in our community. He shouldn't have been allowed into the country. He shouldn't have been out on bail. He shouldn't have been with a gun. And he shouldn't have become radicalized," Abbott said.

ksb/bk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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