Man dies after setting himself on fire in Saudi Arabia


A man has died after setting himself on fire in Saudi Arabia's south-western region of Jizan, officials have said.

Reports in the Saudi media say the man, who was in his 60s, set himself on fire using a petroleum product in the town of Samitah, and died later in hospital.

There have been several acts of self-immolation in the Arab world, mimicking the suicide of a man in Tunisia which provoked the anti-government uprising.

A Mauritanian man who set himself on fire also died in hospital on Saturday.

Yacoub Ould Dahoud, a 43-year-old businessman, was transferred to a clinic in Morocco with 90% burns after his act of self-immolation in protest at Mauritanian government on Monday in the capital, Nouakchott, his family said.

'Only the beginning'

It was the death of a young unemployed man that triggered the protests in Tunisia which led to the overthrow of President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali last week.

Unable to find a job after college, Muhammad Bouazizi, decided to start selling vegetables on the streets of Sidi Bouzid. But officials confiscated his unlicensed cart, and slapped and insulted him.

On 17 December, the 26-year-old stood the town's main square, doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire. By the time he died of his injuries on 4 January, protests over his treatment had spread throughout Tunisia.

Image caption,
Thousands of people took part in a demonstration in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa

There have since been a series of self-immolations in the Arab world.

On Tuesday, a 25-year-old unemployed Egyptian died after setting himself on fire in the port city of Alexandria, while three other people survived setting themselves on fire on the streets of the capital, Cairo.

Some acts of self-immolations have also been reported in Algeria.

The incident in Samitah was the first such incident in Saudi Arabia. Officials said the motive was not yet known, but the website said the dead man was angered by how difficult it was to gain Saudi nationality.

Mr Ben Ali has been in Saudi Arabia since fleeing Tunisia last week.

In neighbouring Yemen, thousands of people took part in a demonstration in the capital, Sanaa, demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Get out, get out, Ali. Join your friend Ben Ali," the protesters chanted.

One of the organisers, Islamist MP and teachers' union leader Fouad Dahaba, said the rally represented only the beginning and that the "coming days will witness an escalation".

Yemen's government has shown little tolerance for dissent in the past, and the security forces fired tear gas to break up Saturday's protest. About 30 people were also detained, one security official said.

In Algeria, riot police also broke up an opposition demonstration by several hundred people in the capital, Algiers. Activists said more than 40 people were injured; the authorities put the number at 19.

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