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Tunisian street vendor dies after setting self on fire

Media reports said he took his own life after authorities seized the merchandise

Published: Updated:

A Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire after authorities seized his merchandise has died, a health official said on Monday.

"The young man was admitted to hospital with third degree burns on Friday. He died of his injuries today," said Imed Maaloul, head of health services in Tunisia's second city Sfax.

Officials in Sfax said the young man, who was not immediately named, had been arrested as he tried to sell 3,000 packs of contraband cigarettes.

Media reports said he took his own life after authorities seized the merchandise.

In December 2010, young university graduate Mohamed Bouazizi who eked out a living as a fruit seller set himself alight to protest police harassment and unemployment in the central town of Sidi Bouzid.

His act, from which he died weeks later, ignited the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that later spread to several Arab capitals and brought down autocratic regimes.

Poverty and unemployment as well as demands for democratic reform were at the heart of the uprising that forced longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down.

Tunisia's economy has remained stagnant since the revolt and the country's key tourism sector has been badly shaken by two deadly attacks on foreign tourists by Islamist militants this year.

Growth reached only one percent in 2014 and the government recently said that figure would be halved this year.

Joblessness stands at nearly 30 percent, with the number even higher among young people, and one in six Tunisians lives below the poverty line.


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