ANKARA, Turkey -- A gunman opened fire yesterday in Turkey's highest administrative court, killing a prominent judge and wounding four others in an attack the suspect called retaliation for a ruling against a teacher who wore an Islamic head scarf.
Four of the justices, including Judge Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin, who died of gunshot wounds to the head, had voted in February against the promotion of an elementary school teacher who wore an Islamic-style head scarf outside of work.
The judges' photos were published by the pro-Islamic Vakit newspaper.
The attacker, who was detained and was being interrogated by antiterrorism police, shouted ''I am the soldier of God!" before opening fire. He said the attack was to punish the judges for their decision, said Tansel Colasan, deputy head of the administrative court, the Council of State.
The head of the court chamber, Mustafa Birden, was wounded in the liver and spleen and underwent surgery, said Dr. Ugur Erdener, of Hacettepe University Hospital. A sixth judge escaped harm by throwing himself onto the floor, reports said.
Birden reportedly had received death threats and the administrative court complained recently that its members could become targets, private CNN-Turk TV said. The TV station reported that the attacker, a lawyer, was being monitored by police for alleged ties to the radical Turkish Islamic group Hezbollah. The group bears the same name as the better known Lebanese group, but is unrelated.
Government-owned Anatolia news agency said the attacker told police during questioning that he was not linked to any terror organization. Police were searching for two people they say are tied to the gunman, the agency reported.
Police searching the gunman's car found newspaper articles bearing the judges' pictures, the agency said.
The attack stoked tensions between the secular establishment and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government, which had strongly criticized the court's head scarf decision.
Opposition parties held Erdogan's government responsible, while the country's pro-secular establishment, including President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the powerful military and the judiciary denounced the attack.