CAIRO (AFP) – Two men set themselves ablaze in Egypt on Tuesday, security officials said, bringing to 10 the number of such cases in the Arab world, including a Tunisian whose action sparked a revolution.
An Egyptian security official said a 25-year-old unemployed man suffering mental problems set himself ablaze in the northern city of Alexandria on Tuesday, suffering third degree burns.
Another man set himself alight outside Egypt’s government headquarters in Cairo, an official reported earlier on Tuesday. He was only slightly injured and taken to hospital.
The incidents follow a similar one in Cairo on Monday in which a man poured fuel on himself and set himself on fire on a busy street in front of the People’s Assembly.
He was hospitalised but expected to be released in a day or two, officials said.
Egyptian police said on Tuesday they also arrested a man who was carrying jerry cans of petrol near parliament in Cairo on the presumption that he was going to set himself on fire.
The fiery protests began in Tunisia on December 17 when 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze. His death sparked an uprising and led to Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fleeing the country after 23 years in power.
Since then there have been nine other such incidents, believed to be copycat suicide bids.
Five of the later protests took place in Algeria which had also been the scene of violent protests over rising prices, twinned with unemployment.
In the latest in the north African country, a 36-year-old unemployed man set himself on fire near the Algerian frontier with Tunisia in the El Oued region, Algerian newspapers reported.
Another copycat immolation attempt also took place in Mauritania with a man burning himself outside the presidential offices in the capital Nouakchott.
The ouster of Tunisian strongman Ben Ali has left governments in the Middle East increasingly uneasy about the situation as opposition groups seek to take advantage of the upheaval in the north African country.
But Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Sunday downplayed fears that a Tunisian-style popular revolt could spread to other Arab countries, calling it “nonsense.”