The death toll in anti-government protests that have swept Iraq the past four days has soared to at least 60.

Security and medical sources said the figure has more than doubled in the past 24 hours, as clashes between protesters and police intensified.

The military said “unidentified snipers” had killed four people in Baghdad, including two police officers.

Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said protesters’ “legitimate demands” had been heard, but appealed for calm.

Spontaneous protests erupted on Tuesday amid frustration over Iraq’s high youth unemployment rate, its dire public services and chronic corruption.

It is seen as the first major challenge to Mr Mahdi’s fragile government, nearly a year since he came to power.