Security forces open fire at protesters in Baghdad, Najaf

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Iraqi officials said two protesters had been shot dead and at least 26 wounded in Baghdad and southern Iraq in continued unrest after Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced he intended to resign.

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.

Protesters attempted to dismantle barricades preventing them from crossing the bridge leading to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where most government buildings and foreign embassies are based.

Iraq’s Cabinet said in a statement it convened an emergency session on Saturday to discuss Abdul-Mahdi stepping down and approved the resignations of key staff.

Experts said parliament must approve Abdul Mahdi’s resignation for it to be valid.

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

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Anti-government protests have gripped Iraq since October 1, when thousands took to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shia south.

Iraq's semi-official Human Rights Commission said in a statement on Saturday that those responsible for the killings of protesters must be brought to justice and that it would gather evidence for prosecution.

The statement did not acknowledge the prime minister's resignation.

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