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Turkish parliamentary body approves bill to lift MPs immunity

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows a general view of the Turkish parliament in session. (© Anadolu news agency)

A Turkish parliamentary commission has approved a controversial bill to strip lawmakers of immunity from prosecution, paving the way for a law that critics say is aimed at targeting Kurds and dissidents.

Representatives from the ruling AK, CHP and nationalist MHP parties approved the legislation late Monday amid the absence of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies.

The AK party had submitted the draft proposal to the Turkish Parliamentary Constitutional Committee on April 12, and 316 lawmakers from the governing social conservative political party had signed it before submission.

The legislators pushed each other, squared up and traded kicks and punches. They also threw water bottles at each other. The brawl prompted HDP representatives to withdraw.

Hours earlier, when the committee debated the draft law, a brawl broke out between AK and HDP members.

The bill will be put to vote after a debate in the Turkish parliament’s general.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for the prosecution of HDP members, accusing them of being affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey has been taking a tough stance on Kurdish militants in the country’s southeast, with military and police claiming that they have killed hundreds of PKK members.

Senior HDP figures have repeatedly challenged the figures, saying many of those killed in the crackdown have been civilians.

Turkish lawmakers are immune from prosecution while in office. The police can file "dossiers" against politicians, which can lead to a legal process once they cease to be members of parliament.

Deadly tensions in southeast

At least two Turkish soldiers and five PKK militants were killed in fresh clashes in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Monday.

The deadly fighting broke out after PKK militant, who were armed with rocket launchers and rifles, stormed a military post in the Semdinli district of Hakkari, the Turkish army said.

Turkish warplanes also hit targets belonging to PKK in northern Iraq on Monday evening, killing 18 militants, military sources said.

They said the warplanes struck targets in the Qandil mountains, where the PKK leadership is based.

Thousands of militants and hundreds of army troops have been killed after the collapse of a ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government last July.

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