Sydney: Five escape, gunman wants Islamic State flag [VIDEO]

Five people have escaped from the cafe in central Sydney where at least one armed man had taken several people hostage on Monday.

Two men escaped through doors and another man who appeared to be a worker at the Lindt Cafe escaped through a fire escape at about 4 p.m. local time. Two female cafe employees escaped at around 5 p.m.

The escaped hostages were given health checks before being interviewed by police. Police would not confirm how many were left inside the cafe.

Witnesses said that at least one gunman armed with a shotgun is holding around 15 hostages inside the cafe. The gunman reportedly rotates the hostages, making them press an Islamic flag against the glass for around two hours at a time, 9NEWS and the BBC reported.

He reportedly demanded to speak with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and also wants an Islamic State flag delivered to the cafe, in exchange for a hostage, 9NEWS reported.