Europe

Man sets himself on fire in Vatican's St Peter's square

Policeman walks on white powder left from the fire extinguisher in St Peter's Square (19 December 2013) Image copyright AP
Image caption Parts of St Peter's Square were covered in white powder left from the fire extinguisher

A man has been severely injured after setting himself on fire in St Peter's Square in Vatican City, church officials have said.

The 51-year-old poured petrol over his body before setting himself alight on Thursday morning, the Vatican said in a statement.

He was taken to hospital with severe burns on his upper body.

The Vatican told journalists the motives for the man's actions remained unknown.

Officials said a Jesuit priest walking across the square had tried to smother the flames with his cloak.

He was then joined by two police officers who managed to put out the blaze with a blanket and fire extinguisher.

The officers were taken to hospital and treated for "respiratory problems and burns to the hands", the Vatican said.

It added that the authorities found a piece of paper with the phone number of the man's daughter near the scene of the incident.

This is not the first case of self-immolation inside Vatican City. In 1998, Alfredo Ormando died after setting himself on fire in protest at the church's condemnation of homosexuality.

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