IRBID, Jordan -- Thousands of young men poured into the streets of Jordan's cities and towns for a third night of scattered protests against King Abdullah II, as the United States expressed support for the monarch.
Thursday's protests around the country, most of which involved exchanges of rocks and tear gas, were set off this week by anger at a reduction in public fuel subsidies. Unlike previous demonstrations here, this week's protests for the first time have also called for ending the rule of King Abdullah II.
Crowds have borrowed the signature chant of the Arab Spring revolts -- "The people want the fall of the regime!" -- and added their own dances and rhymes comparing the king to Ali Baba, the legendary thief. In this affluent northern city, usually a bulwark of support for the king, some demonstrators spoke openly of demands for democracy.
"Our ambition is to get our rights," said Ali Ababene, a young man warming himself by a burning tire before dashing away ahead of the next volley of tear gas. "Our problem is not the high prices. It is the audaciousness of the corruption." He added, "It is about democracy, freedom and social justice."
The protests here turned notably violent on Wednesday night, after the police shot and killed Qasi Omari, 22, now described in local graffiti as "the martyr of the price hike."
The Jordanian government said he was killed in a shootout with a group of armed men who assaulted a police station here on Wednesday night. But on Thursday, two members of his family and a witness to the killing said that he was unarmed, part of a group of about 30 unarmed men who walked to the police station to complain about abusive language they said officers had used while breaking up an earlier protest.
One of those men, Firas Sultan el Azzam, 28, said they had asked the police through a sliding front door, "We want to know who gave you the right to curse us?" He and Mr. Omari's family said the police then opened fire, killing Mr. Omari and wounding three others. Angry crowds then set fire to several government cars and burned down a municipal building, where a heavy contingent of plainclothes police officers was watching children play on Thursday.
The protests are expected to escalate after midday prayers across the country on Friday, and the family plans a funeral that day for Mr. Omari as well.
Established by the British after World War I, Jordan's monarchy is one of the few Western-backed Arab governments to remain in place through decades of coups and revolts. Jordan is also a pivotal United States ally, occupying a strategic location between Israel, Iraq and Syria, and it is one of the few Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.
Asked about the protests, a State Department spokesman, Mark C. Toner, urged protesters to remain peaceful and expressed support for the reforms led by the king.
"We support King Abdullah II's road map for reform and the aspirations of the Jordanian people," Mr. Toner said, "to foster a more inclusive political process that will promote security, stability, as well as economic development."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.