ALGIERS (Reuters) – At least four Algerians have set themselves on fire in the past five days, several newspapers reported on Monday, echoing the suicide that triggered the unrest that brought down the leader of neighbouring Tunisia.
Algeria has seen violent demonstrations in several cities over the past several weeks against high food prices and unemployment, in parallel with demonstrations that brought down Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali on Friday.
The Tunisian protests were triggered in part by the death of 26-year-old vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi, who became a martyr to demonstrators when he died weeks after setting himself on fire because police had confiscated his vegetable cart.
Ben Ali’s fall — the first time in generations that an Arab leader has been toppled by public protests — has sent a sharp signal to a region dominated by autocratic regimes. Protesters in other countries have made clear they see it as a model.
In Algeria, a man named Senouci Touat doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire in the city of Mostaganem, 350 km west of the capital Algiers, El Watan and El Khabar newspapers reported. His life is not in danger.
Mohsen Bouterfif died on Saturday in Tebessa province of his burns three days after setting himself ablaze when a town’s mayor failed to secure him a house. In Bordj Menail, 26-year-old Aouichia Mohamed set himself on fire on Wednesday. The fourth incident took place in the town of Jijel, newspapers said.
Official sources say two people have been killed and scores were injured during riots in recent weeks in Algeria. To calm the protests, Algeria has cut the cost of sugar and cooking oil.
Demonstrations have also taken place in other north African and Middle Eastern countries over high food prices, poor living conditions and a lack of political freedoms.
In Egypt, a man set himself on fire in front of parliament on Monday.