|Hundreds of youths clashed with police in several cities in Algeria over food price rises and unemployment [REUTERS]
A man has died after setting himself on fire at a government building in Algeria, state media has reported, echoing the self-immolation that triggered the protests that toppled the leader of neighbouring Tunisia.
The daily El Khabar reported on Sunday that Mohsen Bouterfif had died of his burns after setting himself on fire on Thursday in front of the town hall in Boukhadra, east of Tebessa.
The paper reported that it hapened after a meeting with the mayor who was unable to provide Bouterfif with a job and a house.
About 100 young men protested over Mohsen's death in the town, in Tebessa province, 700 km east of Algiers. The governor of the province sacked the mayor, El Khabar said.
It was the one of four attempted public suicides in Algeria this past week in apparent copycat replays of last month's self-immolation of a 26-year-old man in Tunisia, which triggered a popular revolt that led to the ouster of that country's autocratic ruler, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
On Sunday, police intervened to put out the flames as a 34-year-old man, also jobless, tried to set himself on fire outside the headquarters of the domestic intelligence agency for the department of Mostaganem, some 355km east of Algiers, the APS news agency said.
In yet another case, a 27-year-old man torched himself on Friday in front of a police station in Jijel, outside of Algiers, according to the daily El Watan, although the reasons for his action were unclear.
The victim, Said. H, appeared at the police station with his chest and upper body in flames, but police rapidly put out the fire with an extinguisher, it said.
The man, who suffered second-degree burns, was admitted to a hospital.
Elsewhere, a man in his forties on Wednesday also set himself ablaze in Bordj Menaiel in the Boumerdes region near the Algerian capital, according to the El Watan.
Desperate over not being listed to receive housing benefits, the father of six doused himself with gasoline and set it alight, but a town official intervened to stop the fire, the daily said.
The man was hospitalised but his life is not in danger, it said.
Several Algerian towns, including the capital Algiers, have experienced riots in recent weeks over unemployment and a sharp rise in the prices of food staples.
Official sources say two people have been killed and scores were injured during the unrest, which unfolded in parallel to street violence in Tunisia and demonstrations over high food prices in other North African and Middle Eastern countries.
The fall of the Tunisian president on Friday is the first time in generations that an Arab leader has been toppled by public protests.
The demonstrations that brought down Ben Ali erupted after the self-immolation of 26-year-old vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire on December 17 because police had confiscated his vegetable cart.
Bouazizi died weeks later of his burns, becoming a martyr to crowds of students and the unemployed protesting against poor living conditions.