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Turkish judge killed in courthouse shooting

18 May 2006 at 05:02 | 686 views

An armed man burst into a Turkish courthouse Wednesday morning and opened fire, killing one judge and wounding four others.

The gunman(photo) shouted that he was a "soldier of Allah" as he burst in on a committee meeting of Turkey’s Council of State and started shooting with a handgun, deputy chairwoman Tansel Colasan said.

The shooter was arrested immediately after the attack and taken into custody by Turkish anti-terrorism police.

The gunman said the attack was in retalliation for a controversial ruling in February that barred the promotion of an elementary school teacher who wore a headscarf outside of work, officials said.

The court has been harshly criticized in Islamist circles for endorsing secularist laws, such as a ban on headscarves in universities and state offices.

Media reports said the gunman was a lawyer registered with the Istanbul Bar Association. He had reportedly been prevented by police from entering the building on Tuesday.

One of the judges, Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin, was shot in the head and died in hospital, according to the Anatolia news agency.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, a staunch secularist, issued a statement denouncing the attack as "a dark stain."

"Pressure and threats will not intimidate the Turkish judiciary, which will continue its constitutional duties bound to the secular and democratic republic," he said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose wife Emine wears a headscarf, objected to the February ruling and has indicated that he and his party want to have the ban lifted.

However, Erdogan was also quick to deplore Wednesday’s attack. "I curse and condemn this incident," he said.