AMMAN - Jordan's Islamist opposition urged King Abdallah to form a government of national salvation on Friday to calm street protests sparked by steep increases in fuel prices.

The call came as several thousand Islamists and members of leftist parties rallied in the capital Amman to keep up pressure on a government they blame for worsening the plight of the poor.

The price hikes include a 54 percent increase in the cost of gas cylinders used for cooking and heating. Much of the unrest since mid-November has hit impoverished towns across the country of 7 million.

The protesters called for the removal of Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and urged citizens to rise up against the price rises, which the government says are necessary to bring stretched state finances under control.

Officials from the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest political party, say the authorities should form a more credible, broad-based government to restore stability.

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