Italians shocked by self-immolation protests

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Italians have been left shocked by two cases of men setting themselves on fire in the past two days in protest at their financial hardship.

A 58-year-old builder accused of tax evasion set himself alight in his car in Bologna on Wednesday.

Another builder, a 27-year-old Moroccan, set himself on fire outside the town hall in Verona on Thursday, saying that he had not been paid for four months.

Both men are being treated in hospital.

The man in the first incident had reportedly left a suicide note to the tax agency, protesting his innocence.

With Italy in such serious economic trouble, there is now a much more rigorous pursuit of those who do not pay what they owe the state, the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome reports.

There has been much sympathy in the Italian media for the man in Verona, with one newspaper describing him as a man who had been crushed by the economic crisis, he adds.

The same paper listed several people in Italy who it said had recently been driven to suicide by their money worries.

Particularly on the political left, stories like these are seen as symptomatic of the growing pressure and desperation felt by many as Italy's economic climate worsens, our correspondent adds.

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