Washington: A physician at the centre of controversy over abortion in the US was shot to death on Sunday morning as he walked into church services in the town of Wichita.
George Tiller, 67, one of the country's few physicians who performed late-term abortions, had survived a previous attack in 1993.
Police said they had detained a possible suspect found driving a car that met the description of the one that raced away after the shooting at the Reformation Lutheran Church in the town of 380,000 people, according to the Kansas City Star newspaper online.
The attack came about 10 am (local time), after services had begun.
Tiller's murder brought an outpouring of condemnation from both sides of the heated abortion debate.
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said Tiller's murder sent "a chill down the spines of the brave and courageous providers and other professionals who are part of reproductive-health centres that serve women across this country."
Tiller's clinic had been targeted by bombs, shootings and vandalism over the years. Kansas is a stronghold of the anti-abortion movement from which groups of activists fan out across the country to protest.
NARAL noted in its statement that despite the "persistent threats of violence ... Tiller never wavered in his commitment to providing abortion services and other reproductive health care to women and their families, often in the most difficult and heart-breaking circumstances."
Anti-abortion groups also issued statements to deplore the shooting.
Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said her organisation was "shocked and very upset by what happened in Wichita," adding that they "value life" and "completely deplore violence."
Another anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, denounced "vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning."