A promising young boxer due to marry this weekend has been gunned down alongside his best friend in the latest outbreak of violence in Sydney's west. Professional boxer Bassam Chami, and friend Ibrahim Assad, were both fatally shot last night on Blaxcell Street at Granville in south-western Sydney. Mr Chami had served time in jail for the stabbing manslaughter of a man in a Sydney pub on Anzac Day in 1998. Police said it was the 22nd shooting incident in Sydney this year, prompting New South Wales Opposition Leader Peter Debnam to label the city's south-west a "war zone". Concerned about the recent increase in gun crime in Sydney, NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney today called a high-level meeting of senior police. In response to the latest killings, police called in the State Crime Command, along with members of Strike Force Gain, established to investigate crime linked to the Middle-Eastern community....
The pair was believed to be standing with a group of men on Blaxcell Street at around 11.15pm (AEDT) when seven shots rang out. One of the two died at the scene, while the other died a few hours later in Westmead Hospital. Assistant Commissioner Graeme Morgan said one of the victims had been carrying a pistol but it had not been used. He said the backgrounds of the two victims would play a "prominent role" in the investigation. Mr Chami was sentenced to a minimum of five and a half years in 1999 for manslaughter, after stabbing a man to death at the Auburn Hotel on Anzac Day in 1998. He also had a lengthy criminal history which included charges for firearms offences and intimidating police.
Police have already spoken to a number of people who were at the crime scene including former Guantanamo Bay inmate Mamdouh Habib, who was driving home along Blaxcell street with his son. Mr Habib is not a suspect. "He heard some shots fired. He saw one youth fall in front of him. He called the police," Mr Habib's lawyer Peter Erman said after speaking with his client. Witnesses described a dark coloured, BMW sedan leaving the crime scene - the same description given by witnesses who saw a car fleeing Guildford three hours later after shots were fired at a house.
Mr Debnam said residents of south-western Sydney were "living with the sound of gunfire" and called on the Government to deploy 500 extra police into the area. NSW Premier Morris Iemma said police would be given whatever resources were required to find those responsible for the double shooting.
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