ANKARA - The Turkish parliament descended into chaos when a furious brawl erupted as the country's ruling party sought to push through a controversial bill boosting the powers of police in protests.
Some lawmakers brandished ceremonial gavels as they chased their counterparts from other parties, in the sometimes farcical late-night fracas overnight Tuesday to Wednesday that left five deputies injured.
Others hurled glasses at their fellow lawmakers, eyewitness Melda Onur, a female MP from the opposition CHP party, told the Hurriyet newspaper.
One image posted on the Internet showed another lawmaker surrounded by plants having fallen into an ornamental flowerbed during the fracas.
Five opposition lawmakers were injured in the scuffles, with two suffering head injuries inflicted by the ceremonial gavel normally used by the speaker, the Dogan news agency said.
Four of the five required hospital treatment for their injuries and the session, which had gone on until after midnight, was finally adjourned until Wednesday afternoon.
The melee erupted during a closed session in the parliament after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers attempted to block the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MPs from walking to the rostrum to give speeches.
Ertugrul Kurkcu, opposition MP, said he was wounded on the head while he was trying to thwart a punch directed at Sebahat Tuncel, female deputy from the HDP.
The troubles started when deputy parliament speaker from the ruling party gave the floor to a fellow AKP lawmaker instead of an opposition MP, he said.
"AKP deputies were in intensive efforts to bring the homeland security bill to parliament before midnight," he said.
"I was stuck in the middle to prevent a punch aimed at Mrs Sebahat (Tuncel). I was wounded on the head. AKP (lawmakers) attacked with whatever they have in their hands. They attacked with parliament speaker's gavel and parliament bell and hit us with iron chairs," he said.
"I saw the bell hit the head of the opposition lawmakers. There were always scuffles in the parliament but I have seen this for the first time."
AKP's Mustafa Elitas claimed that he was "harressed" by the HDP's two women lawmakers including Tuncel and Pervin Buldan when he took the floor to deliver a speech.
"They tried to drive me away from the rostrum," he said, accusing the two of pretending to be hurt.
"The two women lawmakers battered themselves. They played their role very well."
Ironically, only hours before the fighting, many lawmakers in the 550-seat parliament took the floor to condemn violence against women, after the murder and attempted rape of a 20-year-old female student by a bus driver in southern Turkey, sparking an outpouring of public anger.
CHP lawmaker Muslim Sari said in a Twitter message that his fellow colleagues Musa Cam, Aykut Erdogdu and Refik Eryilmaz were injured "as a result of AKP attacks."
He said: "They are currently in good state. Musa Cam is at hospital," and added, "We will keep on our struggle against fascism."
Kurkcu said the opposition was more motivated now to block the protest bill, which appears set to be one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in Turkey in recent years.
The opposition fears the bill, introduced by the AKP, will effectively create a police state under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Lawmakers had earlier used a variety of delaying tactics to thwart the debate on the bill.
The so-called "homeland security reform" bill was submitted to parliament by the AKP government after deadly pro-Kurdish protests in October.
"We consider it a law that facilitates a switch to an authoritarian state," Aykan Erdemir, a lawmaker for the CHP, told AFP.
The AKP however has stood behind the legislation, saying it was compatible with the EU laws and describing it as a "package protecting freedoms".