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Arabs vow to revenge killing of Yassin
Updated: 2004-03-22 15:48

Arabs condemned the assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin and vowed revenge on Israelis, while the United States quickly called for restraint from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, arguably the largest Islamic movement in the Middle East, issued a warning to all Americans and Israelis.

"There can be no life for the Americans and Zionists in the region," Akef told the pan-Arabic satellite television Al-Jazeera. "We will not rest until they (Israelis) are expelled from the region."

Israeli helicopters killed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the violent Hamas movement, in a missile attack Monday as he left a mosque near his house in Gaza at daybreak, witnesses said. Yassin and three other people were killed instantly. Hospital officials said 17 people were wounded, two critically.

"This is one of the biggest crimes that the Israeli government has committed," Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia told The Associated Press.

A spokesman for a group of militant Palestinian groups in the Palestinian territories, Abu Abeer, told another pan-Arab satellite channel there would be "swift and serious" repercussions.

"They (Israelis) have opened the gates of hell," he warned on Al-Arabiya television. "For us, everything is now permissible after this assassination."

In Khartoum, the Sudanese Islamic leader, Hassan Turabi, told al-Jazeera that the killing would have an impact on Arab states.

"I think that this will put pressure on the Arab governments that have so far let down the Palestinian cause," he said, without naming any government.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said: "The United States urges all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint."

In Australia, a spokesman for Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer urged restraint.

"We would certainly urge calm on both sides to try and prevent any further decline into violence in that region," said Chris Kenny.

But he added that Yassin had "actively supported suicide bombings over the years that have killed scores of Israeli civilians."

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