ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) _ Masked gunmen today shot and killed a prominent journalist who often criticized Moslems fundamentalists in Turkey and blamed Syria for a resurgence of terrorism in his homeland.

Cetin Emec, a board member and columnist of Turkey's largest circulation newspaper, Hurriyet, died after being rushed to the hospital shortly after the 9 a.m. shooting, police said. His driver also was killed in the attack.

Authorities said two masked gunmen fired on Emec and his driver as they were leaving his house in the fashionable Suadiye district to go to work. The driver, Sinan Ercan, was shot in the back as he fled, police said.

The gunmen escaped in a stolen car, the semi-official Anatolia news agency said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting.

President Turgut Ozal denounced the attack, saying: ''The assailants and the treacherous people behind them should know that they will not succeed to ruin the calm and stability of our country with terrorism.''

In his last column, published in Hurriyet today, Emec expressed alarm at the resurgence of terrorism in Turkey. He accused Syria of supporting terrorist groups in the region and claimed Syrian leaders were behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in December 1988.

Emec, the son of a newspaper publisher, was known for his liberal views and often criticized the Moslem fundamentalist minority in Turkey.

A month ago, a gunman shot and killed a prominent Turkish jurist, Muammer Aksoy, at the entrance to his house in the capital city, Ankara. A previously unknown Moslem fundamentalist group, calling itself the Islamic Revenge Organization, claimed responsibility for that shooting.

Callers to newspaper offices said Aksoy was punished for his opposition to the Islamic style of dress for women, which requires covering from head to toe. Police could not verify the claim.

A wave of terrorism in late 1970s claimed 5,000 lives in Turkey and triggered a military takeover in 1980 that lasted three years.