As night fell Monday, New South Wales police capped the flow of information to the media and public, 12 hours after a gunman locked an unknown number of hostages in the Lindt chocolate café in Sydney’s central business district. The surrounding area up to and including the famous opera house is in lockdown. The authorities are pinning their hopes on negotiating a solution that will not endanger the hostages, warning that the bargaining may be drawn out. The gunman has forced hostages to stand for hours with raised hands placed against a window. Five managed to escape and are being questioned. Heavily armed police including snipers are standing by around the extensive exclusion zone after its evacuation early Monday.