SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that the siege of a central Sydney cafe by an armed gunman yesterday showed that it is necessary to always be on guard against such incidents.
In a post on his Facebook page this morning, PM Lee said that despite all precautions, such an incident happening in Singapore could never be completely ruled out.
"If it ever happens, we need the cohesion and resilience to deal with it calmly and as one united people, and not let it divide or destroy our society," he wrote.
It was previously reported that heavily armed police stormed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe early Tuesday morning, freeing a number of hostages and ending the 16-hour siege.
The attacker, identified as 50-year-old Mon Haron Monis, was killed in the incident. Two other hostages, cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, and barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38, were also killed.
PM Lee added that he had just held a briefing and dialogue with community and religious leaders on extremist terrorism last month, where they discussed how it remained a live threat and the danger of self-radicalisation.
Both PM Lee and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean also said that they were saddened at the loss of life and injuries in the hostage incident.
DPM Teo said in a Facebook post that Singapore authorities had been in touch with their Australian counterparts to find out more details about the incident.
He said that everyone in Singapore could play a part to pre-empt and prevent such attacks, by remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious activities to the authorities promptly.
"Just as importantly, if such an attack should take place, we should all face it together in a calm and resolute way, and cooperate with the authorities to resolve it appropriately," he reiterated.
DPM Teo reminded that any terrorist activities were a danger to all communities in Singapore, and that all Singaporeans should remain united to overcome them.
In response to media queries on the hostage incident in Sydney, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said:
"Singapore strongly condemns the hostage incident that took place in Sydney. We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives and injuries. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. Singapore stands in solidarity with the people and government of Australia.
"This incident highlights the danger posed to all societies by terrorism and extremist ideology, and underscores the need for continued vigilance in dealing with them."