Man torches himself on busy Amsterdam square

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2011 10:55 AM
Man torches himself on busy Amsterdam square

An unidentified man doused himself in gasoline and then set himself on fire in front of a landmark monument in central Amsterdam on Wednesday, police and witnesses said.

Photos of the dramatic incident in front of the National Monument began to circulate via social media and websites minutes after it occurred in the early afternoon. One showed the victim on his back, engulfed in flames, while people tried to put out the fire with their coats.

Emergency services arrived in Dam Square in Amsterdam's historic center to pour water on the embers of his clothes and cool him down, and part of the area was cordoned off as the victim underwent first aid before being taken to a hospital.

Police said the man has now been moved to a burn center with serious wounds and unable to respond to questions.

"There is nothing known of the nature and circumstances behind this incident," a police statement said.

Images of him taken shortly after the fire was extinguished showed him with much of his skin bare after his clothes had been stripped or burned to ashes.

National broadcaster NOS cited eyewitnesses as saying the man spoke Dutch with a foreign accent.

The monument is a pillar that was built in historic Dam Square after World War II. The square, which also contains the Royal Palace, is the frequent scene of protests.