Protests grip Iraq’s capital and south despite rising toll Dec 09, 2019 0 174 12345 AFPBaghdadThousands of Iraqi protesters streamed into streets and public squares in the capital and restive south on Sunday, saying they were not deterred by deadly violence meant to “scare” them.In Baghdad, crowds of anti-government demonstrators thronged Tahrir Square, the epicentre of their movement.Late on Friday, unidentified gunmen attacked a parking complex near Tahrir where demonstrators had been squatting for weeks, leaving 20 protesters and four police officers dead, medics told AFP.Protesters feared it signalled that their movement would be derailed but by Sunday, the numbers gathered under the sun in Tahrir were staggering. “They’re trying to scare us in whatever ways they can, but we’re staying in the streets,” said Aisha, a 23-year-old protester.At least 452 people -- the vast majority of them protesters -- have died and 20,000 have been wounded since the rallies erupted.In Nasiriyah, a protest hotspot where dozens were killed in a spree of violence last month, protesters regrouped in downtown along with representatives of powerful tribes.“We will keep protesting until the regime collapses,” pledged Ali Rahim, a student.In other southern cities, local authorities had declared Sunday -- the first day of the work week in Iraq -- a holiday for civil servants.Road blocks and massive strikes also disrupted work in Hilla, Amara, Diwaniya, Kut and the shrine city of Najaf, AFP’s correspondents there said. The rallies have persisted despite the resignation of premier Adel Abdel Mahdi earlier this month, with protesters demanding the complete ouster of the ruling class.Iraq is ranked the 12th most corrupt country in the world by watchdog group Transparency International, with billions of dollars pilfered each year from the state budget of OPEC’s second-largest producer. RELATED ARTICLES Nearly 800,000 attend HK Human Rights Day rally Dec 09, 2019 0 616 Iran’s Rouhani unveils ‘budget of resistance’ against US sanctions Dec 09, 2019 0 646 Air strikes kill five pro-Iran fighters in Syria: Monitor Dec 09, 2019 0 177 UN forces thwart an attempted attack on base in eastern Congo Kinshasa: UN forces have managed to thwart an attempted attack on one of their bases in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN’s MONUSCO peace-keeping mission said on Sunday. UN blue helmets repelled an attempted .. N Korea says it conducted ‘a very important test,’ state media reports Seoul: Pyongyang has carried out “a very important test” at its the Sohae Launch Facility, North Korean state news agency KCNA reported on Sunday. The report said that the country’s Academy of the National Defence .. Body of slain beloved doctor arrives in Japan after Afghan shooting Narita: The body of Tetsu Nakamura, a beloved Japanese doctor who was shot to death in Afghanistan after decades of his earnest support for the country, was brought back to Japan on Sunday. A plane carrying his body landed .. Israel strikes Gaza after rocket attack AFP Gaza City Israeli aircraft carried out attacks in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip early on Sunday, Palestinian security officials said, hours after militants in the enclave launched three rockets at the Jewish .. Senior Iraqi security officer sacked after deadly Baghdad attack Baghdad: An officer in charge of security in the Iraqi capital Baghdad was replaced on Sunday, two days after an attack on anti-government protesters that witnesses said killed at least 16 people. General Abdul Hussein .. 200 displaced Syrians leave overcrowded camp Qamishli: Around 200 Syrian displaced people, mostly women and children, were heading home from an overcrowded desert camp in the northeast of the war-torn country on Sunday, a Kurdish official said. Syria’s Kurds, .. Lebanese Sunni leaders back Hariri to return as PM AFP Beirut Sunni Muslim leaders in protest-wracked Lebanon have thrown their support behind ex-premier Saad Hariri to return to his post a month after he stepped down, a sidelined candidate said on Sunday. Businessman ..