BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ A storekeeper driving home from his hardware shop was shot to death Saturday night by three hooded gunmen, police reported. The IRA later claimed responsibility.

Police said David Wilson, 37, had stopped his van at an intersection in the village of Donaghmore when the killers fired at him through the windshield and then escaped in another vehicle.

Two passengers in the van were not injured as the killers picked out Wilson as their target, police reported.

They said none of the three men in the van was a member of the security forces and they did not know the motive for the murder.

The Irish Republican Army said in a statement provided later to the media that it had killed Wilson, but provided no motive. The mainly Roman Catholic IRA is fighting to unite Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic under a leftist government.

In Northern Ireland, a British province, Protestants outnumber Catholics 3-2 while the Irish Republic is predominantly Catholic. The IRA is outlawed in both Britain and Ireland.

Belfast police said Wilson's murder brought the known death toll to 2,484 since the violence began in August 1969.

Police reports list the victims as 1,719 civilians, 227 police officers and reservists of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, 383 British soldiers and 155 militiamen of the Ulster Defense Regiment.