At least 12 dead as Iranian regime faces biggest challenge in eight years. The protests have drawn in tens of thousands of people across the nation for several days – the boldest challenge to Iran’s leadership in nearly a decade. The violence continued despite an appeal for calm by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Sunday. He played down the significance of the protests on Monday, as the country’s leadership struggled to respond to the largely spontaneous uprisings. State TV said 10 people were killed in street protests in several cities on Sunday night. It gave no further details on the deaths, but said more than 400 people had been arrested. Two other protesters were killed on Saturday in the western town of Dorud during an overnight rally, according to the governor of Lorestan province, Habibollah Khojastehpour. “Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Iranian MPs on Monday. But he acknowledged that Iranians had legitimate concerns and had the right to make legal protests. He said “no shots were fired by the police and security forces”, and blamed “foreign agents” and “enemies of the revolutions”. Videos appearing to show the bloodied bodies of those said to have been killed has been widely shared on social media, but there has been no independent verification of footage. The protests – which began on Thursday in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city – were prompted by discontent over the country’s weak economy and alleged corruption. The unrest then spread to Tehran, and quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole. As Iran sought to contain the protests, it blocked access to Instagram and the messaging app Telegram. Both apps were used by activists to organise the demonstrations and share images and information.