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Jordanians protest at rising prices

More than 5,000 Jordanians demanding the prime minister's removal have taken to the streets to protest at rising fuel and food prices.

University students, leftists and labour activists staged rallies in five cities - Amman, Irbid, Karak, Salt and Maan - waving Jordanian flags, carrying placards and chanting for Prime Minister Samir Rifai to step down.

"Prices, particularly gasoline and food, are getting out of hand," said Buthaina Iftial, a 24-year-old civil servant protesting in central Amman.

"We're becoming poorer every day," she said, holding a poster with a piece of Arabic flat bread attached.

Police and plain clothes officers formed rings around the demonstrators to contain the protests. There were no reports of arrests or violence.

With deadly economic riots rocking Tunisia and Algeria, Jordan slashed prices and taxes on some foods and fuel on the orders of King Abdullah I earlier this week to help ease the burden on the poor.

Jordan's powerful Muslim Brotherhood opposition did not take part in the latest demonstrations. It has called the government's measures insufficient and said it will stage a sit-in in front of parliament on Sunday to voice its criticism.

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