Tunisia sees 4 cases of self-immolation in a week

AP News
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Posted: Jan 11, 2012 11:14 AM
Tunisia sees 4 cases of self-immolation in a week

A middle-aged woman died Wednesday after setting herself on fire in a Tunisian industrial city, said a local official _ the fourth case of self-immolation in the last week.

Malek Mihoub, the direct of civil protection in the city of Sfax, said the 46-year-old woman had a history of mental illness, had just escaped from the local hospital's psychiatric ward, and had previously tried to kill herself. He added that she had set herself on fire with the aide of a flammable substance and a canister of cooking gas.

Her suicide followed that of a father of three who set himself on fire in Gafsa Thursday and died five days later. Two others, in the towns of Bizerte and Siliana, survived.

These acts of desperation, often protesting the inability to find work, come as the Jan. 14 anniversary of the 2011 overthrow of Tunisia's dictatorship nears. That uprising began after a young vegetable seller set himself on fire and died to protest government injustice.

A year after the uprising, Tunisia has elected a new government but still suffers from serious unemployment and a flagging economy as tourists stay away and labor unrest strikes industries.