GAZA, March 22 (UPI) -- An Israeli airstrike killed the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yassin, as he was leaving a mosque in Gaza City early Monday morning.
The 67-year-old paralyzed militant had just been transferred from his wheelchair to his car when Israeli Apache helicopters fired three missiles, killing Yassin, two bodyguards and at least five others.
The attack, which took place in front of the Al Mujama' Mosque near Yassin's home in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City, also wounded at least 12 people including two of Yassin's sons.
Thousands of Palestinians rushed to the Gaza City streets following news of the assassination, calling for revenge, chanting, and firing shots into the air.
Hamas' military wing, the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, issued a statement vowing to immediately avenge Yassin's killing "like an earthquake that will hit everywhere to destroy the Zionist presence."
Israeli public radio reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had personally supervised the attack.