France's labor minister (pictured above) has confirmed that a man has died after setting himself on fire outside a state employment agency. He had reportedly warned of his intentions after being denied jobless benefits.
Police deployed on Wednesday were unable to stop the 43-year-old man proceeding with his fatal act. The self-immolation occurred outside of an employment agency in the western city of Nantes.
The agency had reportedly denied his request for unemployment benefits. It was unclear if he had been receiving payments previously.
In reaction, the man threatened to set himself on fire, according to the agency. Staff members had reportedly offered to help him. Initial reports did not indicate how much time had passed between the man's threat and Wednesday's act.
Aside from his age, there were no details regarding the man's profession or period of unemployment.
'Horrifying,' says minister
France's labor minister, Michel Sapin expressed his shock upon hearing the news, calling the desperate act "horrifiying."
Official unemployment figures reached 10.3 percent in December after a steady rise for nearly two years. Although France's rate has neared its all time high of 11.2 percent in March 1997, France's unemployment level remains far below those of Spain and Greece.
The French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT) trade union federation, issued a statement following the man's death.
"This drama brutally shows the terrible daily reality of unemployment," the CFDT union said. "Job seekers are not statistics."
Wednesday's self-immolation was not the first in France. In August, a man in his 50s, also jobless, set himself on fire and burned to death.
kms/ipj (AFP, Reuters, dpa)