Two protesters have been shot dead and at least 26 were wounded in Baghdad and southern Iraq, in continued unrest after Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi announced he intended to resign.

Iraq’s cabinet held an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss Mr Abdul-Mahdi’s stepping down and approved the resignations of key staff. Experts said parliament must approve Mr Abdul Mahdi’s resignation for it to be valid.

Security and hospital officials said two protesters were killed and 15 wounded early on Saturday by security forces who fired live rounds in the holy city of Najaf, in southern Iraq.

The officials said at least 11 protesters were wounded near Baghdad’s Ahrar Bridge when security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.