Counting is under way in the US Republican primaries in Mississippi and Alabama, with Rick Santorum taking an early lead in both states.

Exit polls suggested Mitt Romney would fare well in Mississippi, but he trailed Mr Santorum and Newt Gingrich with 23% of votes counted there.

The situation was the same in Alabama, but with just 8% of the count complete.

Rick Santorum is hoping to muscle Mr Gingrich out of the race and turn it into a head-to-head against Mr Romney.

While Mr Romney leads the overall delegate race, Mr Gingrich will face mounting pressure to quit if he cannot win one of the states.

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