Hundreds of rioters smashed bank windows, looted buildings and pelted police officers with rocks Friday as riots caused by price increases spread to northern Jordan.
Troops banned Moslems from weekly prayers in troubled southern cities in an attempt to prevent more unrest, which has killed eight people.In Salt, a city of 100,000 residents 12 miles north of Amman, children played inside shattered offices and hundreds of people milled around on the glass-strewn streets.
Demonstrators called for the ouster of Prime Minister Zaid Rifai, whom they blame for austerity measures and declining living standards. They shouted support for King Hussein.
"We are fed up with this government. They have stolen all our money," said a man in his 60s who refused to give his name. He said demonstrators "trust the king's leadership and we know he will respond."
Riots also occurred Thursday night in the northern towns of Madaba and Tayyba.
It was the first time disturbances had spread beyond the south since the unrest began Tuesday in the southern city of Maan. The demonstrations came in response to price increases of 10 percent to 50 percent on gasoline, cigarettes, heating oil and other commodities.
The increases were imposed Sunday as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to reschedule Jordan's $6 billion foreign debt. They came on top of rising unemployment and soaring inflation.
Residents of Maan and other southern cities said soldiers prevented people from attending Friday prayers at mosques. Cancellation of Friday prayers is highly unusual in an Islamic country.
The Koran, Islam's holy book, calls on Moslems to participate in the ceremony, and most take it as a binding duty.