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Second Tunisian man dies after setting himself on fire

The fatal incident in Tunis marks the second self-immolation in the capital in a week
Police vehicles on guard at La Place du 14-Janvier 2011 intersection on the Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis, on 1 April 2020 (AFP)

A Tunisian man died in a hospital on Saturday after setting himself on fire, witnesses and medics said, days after another man burned himself to death to protest against living conditions.

The 35-year-old man "set himself on fire on Habib Bourguiba Avenue" in the centre of Tunis and suffered third-degree burns, a civil defence spokesman told AFP. His motives are still unknown. 

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A witness, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the man had arrived at the iconic avenue in the centre of the capital accompanied by a younger man and tried to attract the attention of some journalists who were there.

The man then doused himself with flammable material, which he set on fire with a lighter, the witness said. Police set up barricades in the area where the incident took place. 

The man was taken to the hospital and later died of his injuries.

On 4 September, 26-year-old Neji Hefiane, who had been wounded in the 2011 revolution, set himself alight in front of his family after the government failed to provide compensation, his father said.

Hefiane died in a hospital on the southern outskirts of Tunis.

Hefiane suffered gunshot wounds to the head during anti-government protests in the early days of the revolution, according to his family, and, although he was on an official list of people entitled to government aid, he received no compensation.

"It was the injustice and marginalisation he suffered that pushed my son to kill himself," his father, Bechir Hefiane, said on Monday.

He said he wrote to President Kais Saied explaining his son's case and asking him to intervene on behalf of the struggling family, which lives in a working-class Tunis district.

"We've got no reply, even after my son's death," he said.

Both acts recall the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, the street seller whose suicide by fire on 17 December 2010 triggered Tunisia's revolution.