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18 Jan, 2019 16:46

Man sets himself on fire at Prague square, 50 years after student died in anti-Soviet protest

Man sets himself on fire at Prague square, 50 years after student died in anti-Soviet protest

A man has been rushed to intensive care and is being treated for burns after setting himself on fire in central Prague, almost 50 years to the day since a student committed suicide by doing the same in an anti-Soviet protest.

According to Prague police, the man poured fuel on himself before igniting it, shortly after 3pm. Passersby on the busy square panicked and extinguished the flames, and the man was taken to hospital with burn wounds.

He has been placed into an artificial coma, and has burns on 30 percent of his body, according to an emergency services spokesperson. He is believed to be a Czech man in his 50s.

Photos from the scene show a pile of ash left behind at the spot where the man went up in flames, and video footage shows the area cordoned off by emergency services.

The man lit himself up on Wenceslas Square, the same location student activist Jan Palach commited suicide by self immolation 50 years beforehand, in protest at the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops.

Palach set himself on fire on January 16, 1969, and died of his injuries three days later.

In 2013, another Czech man set himself on fire at the same location, but only succeeded in getting his jacket alight. Police used snow to snuff out the flames, and the man suffered no wounds except burned fingers. Police concluded the man did not want to commit suicide, but wanted to commemorate Palach’s self-sacrifice.

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