Mass brawl in Armenia parliament

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YEREVAN (AFP) - Armenia's parliament descended into a mass brawl on Wednesday (Aug 25) as the country remains split following last year's defeat in the war with Azerbaijan for control of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had faced a backlash at home over a peace deal with Azerbaijan which saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

In June, Pashinyan's party secured a landslide victory in the snap polls he called after months of protests and mounting discontent.

The newly-formed parliament, however, has struggled to find common ground as Pashinyan's supporters and the opposition traded blame over the loss of Karabakh.

During a parliament session on Wednesday, members of the opposition starting throwing bottles of water at a speaker from Pashinyan's Civil Contract party.

The incident sparked a brawl, forcing the parliament's speaker to pause the session and call in security.

Water bottles and hand sanitisers have since been removed from the chamber.

After the Wednesday session resumed, another brawl broke out when an opposition deputy was interrupted by heckling.

A member of Pashinyan's party then tried to kick the opposition lawmaker, sparking mass fighting on the chamber's floor.

Several members of parliament were removed by security and one lawmaker ended up in hospital with an eye injury.

A day earlier, another opposition deputy was removed from the chamber after she called Pashinyan's party "supporters of the capitulator".

Armenia has been in political crisis since the defeat in the six-week war over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh last autumn that claimed around 6,500 lives.

The fighting ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that saw Baku take control of parts of Karabakh and surrounding districts which Armenian forces controlled since 1994.

Moscow has deployed peacekeepers in the area to oversee the ceasefire it mediated to end the fighting.

Both Azerbaijan and Armenia have reported occasional shootouts in recent months along their shared border, sparking fears of a flare up in the territorial dispute.

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