Anti-government demonstrators rebuilt torched protest camps across Iraq on Monday, seeking to keep up their movement's momentum after a rocket attack on the US embassy in Baghdad threatened an escalation.
The attack, which wounded one person, marked a dangerous shift after volleys of rockets in recent months targeted Iraqi military bases where American troops are deployed.
No faction has claimed responsibility but the US has repeatedly blamed Iran-backed military factions for previous incidents.
The latest attack sparked renewed fears that Baghdad could be dragged into a conflict between Tehran and Washington, weeks after tensions spiked following the US killing of a top Iranian general in Iraq.
Anti-government activists fear that such a conflict would derail their movement, the largest grassroots campaign Iraq has seen in decades.
Rallies erupted on October 1 in Baghdad and across Iraq's Shiite-majority south over corruption, joblessness and poor services.
Protesters are now specifically demanding snap elections, an independent premier and the prosecution of those implicated in corruption or recent bloodshed.
The demonstrators started ramping up pressure a week ago, sealing streets with burning tyres and metal barricades, but riot police responded with live rounds and tear gas.
Early on Monday, unidentified gunmen stormed a protest camp in the flashpoint southern city of Nasiriyah, torching tents and leaving nothing but metal frames and charred shreds of fabric, an AFP correspondent there said.
The attackers also fired on activists who had been sleeping there, killing one and wounding four others, a medical source said.
But hours later, determined protesters had erected new tents and even brought cement blocks to build a one-room installation, signalling their determination to stay.
They shut two main bridges, and government authorities in the city announced their offices would be closed Monday.