Three people were killed and nine hospitalized after heavily armed police stormed a cafe in Sydney, Australia, where a gunman held 17 people hostage for more than 16 hours. The gunman was killed during the raid.

The slain victims were Tori Johnson, 34, the cafe's manager, and Katrina Dawson, 38, an attorney. None of the injuries to the others appear to be life-threatening, authorities said.

Police moved in at about 2 a.m., immediately after hearing gunshots from within the building. The shots were heard soon after five or six hostages fled outside. Following the police raid, one weeping woman was seen being helped out by the officers, and at least two other people were wheeled out on stretchers. Soon after police entered the building, a New South Wales police official confirmed that the crisis was over.

Earlier in the day, the rabbi of the city’s Central Synagogue called for the widespread performance of good deeds and additional Torah study in honor of the hostages, and urged an anxious public to demonstrate vigilance and caution.

“We can only imagine the fear and anxiety being experienced by the hostages and by their dear families,” wrote Rabbi Levi Wolff, chief minister and spiritual head of Sydney’s Central Synagogue and a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary.

“Today, let us each add light,“ he continued, explaining that the upcoming festival of Chanukah, which begins at sundown on Tuesday, teaches how a little light can “dispel the darkness.”

“Let us each do something special today for our fellow human beings, one extra mitzvah in the honor of those being held hostage,” suggested Wolff.

Lockdown Was Initiated

At approximately 9:45 a.m. Monday local time, a terrorist who local police identified as Man Haron Manis, 49, a self-styled preacher with a criminal past, walked into a popular cafe in Sydney’s central business district, and took patrons and employees hostage.

Images of hostages with their hands pressed against the establishment’s glass window were broadcast worldwide and, at one point, two female hostages were photographed holding up a black flag with Arabic writing on it.

Five hostages managed to escape, but an unknown number of people remained inside the cafe. No official count of the number of hostages has been released; estimates range from nearly a dozen to almost 30 people.

Sydney police and emergency personnel responded immediately to the situation, and many businesses in the local area were evacuated, including the famed Sydney Opera House. Other businesses—those in close proximity to the cafe—were placed on lockdown.

As Jewish day schools dismissed early Monday, and synagogues and other public venues initiated emergency security measures, Wolff noted that the crisis was sure to have an impact on children. “Let us remind them that G d is watching over them, and they can do special good deeds in the honor of those who need a blessing for their safety,” he said.

“Australians are a people of peace, and this wonderful country is not accustomed to terror such as this on its own soil,” Wolff continued. “We will not allow these sorts of people to intimidate and overwhelm us.”