Attacks raise fears of Sunni-Shiite violence

The monthly death toll in Iraq dropped by nearly a third to 659 last month, the United Nations said Sunday, but a sharp rise in the number of bullet-riddled bodies found on the streets has raised fears of a return to all-out warfare between Sunni and Shiite factions.

A triple bombing struck the funeral of the son of an anti-al-Qaeda Sunni tribal leader northeast of Baghdad, one of several attacks across Iraq on Sunday that killed a total of 17 people, Iraqi officials said.

At least 565 civilians and 94 security personnel were killed in November, compared with 979 in October, according to the U.N. mission in Iraq, which stressed that the figures are minimums.

It was the second month in a row that the overall death toll declined, but the U.N. envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said he was “profoundly disturbed” by an uptick in “execution-style” killings. In three places around Baghdad last week, Iraqi police found bodies of 31 men, women and children who had been shot in the head.

The funeral bombing killed 11 mourners and wounded 45 others, police and hospital officials said. Also Sunday, a roadside bomb hit a police patrol in Abu Ghraib, on the western outskirts of Baghdad, killing two officers and wounding three others, officials said. In the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, police said gunmen killed cleric Khalid al-Jumeili, an organizer of the city’s Sunni protest camp, in a drive-by shooting. And a bomb exploded in a cafe in Baghdad’s mainly Shiite Husseiniyah area, killing three and wounding 10 others, police said.

— Associated Press

Protest leader demands PM’s ouster

The leader of Thailand’s anti-government protests said he met the prime minister Sunday and demanded that her elected government step down and be replaced by an appointed council.

Suthep Thaugsuban said his meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came under the auspices of the military, which says it is neutral.

Throughout the day, police fought off mobs of rock-throwing protesters who tried to battle their way into the government’s headquarters and other offices. At least three people were killed and 103 injured in the unrest over the weekend, according to police and state emergency medical services.

Yingluck was not expected to make a statement Sunday night, government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said. Her aides said she was in a safe place.

The unrest began last month after Yingluck’s ruling Pheu Thai party failed to push an amnesty law through parliament that would have allowed the return of her self-exiled brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown in a 2006 coup.

— Associated Press

Morsi rally draws hundreds to Tahrir

Police used heavy tear gas to drive hundreds of supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi from Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday barely minutes after the crowd took over.

It was the first time in more than a year that Islamists entered the central square in significant numbers. The location has been the near-exclusive domain of liberal and secular protesters since shortly after Morsi took office in June 2012 as Egypt’s first freely elected president.

The police appeared to surprise the protesters, who dispersed and took refuge in side streets. After an initial salvo of two dozen tear gas canisters, armored police vans rushed to the square with sirens wailing. Later, six army armored personnel carriers arrived. After nightfall, the fighting moved to side streets as police fired tear gas and protesters threw rocks.

The demonstrators came from Cairo University, where they have been protesting the death on Thursday of an engineering student at the hands of police.

— Associated Press

Canadian arrested on spying charge: Canadian police said Sunday that they had arrested an Ontario man for trying to sell classified information to the Chinese government about Canada’s warship building procurement strategy. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said that Qing Quentin Huang, 53, of Burlington, was arrested Saturday and appeared in court Sunday. RCMP Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan said he is charged with communicating with a foreign entity. Police said that Huang works for Lloyd’s Register, a ship design subcontractor to Irving Shipbuilding, and that he acted alone.

— From news services