One of two Egyptians who set themselves on fire on Tuesday died after an apparent bid matched by several other people across the Arab world to copy a Tunisian whose self-immolation sparked a revolution.
Ahmed Hashem al-Sayyed, a 25-year-old who had set himself on fire on the roof of his house, succumbed in hospital, according a hospital official.
An Egyptian security official said earlier that Sayyed, an unemployed man who had mental problems, suffered third-degree burns.
He was one of three cases of people setting themselves
Another man set himself alight outside Egypt's government headquarters in Cairo, an official reported earlier on Tuesday. He was only slightly injured and taken to hospital.
The incidents follow a similar one in Cairo on Monday in which a man poured fuel on himself and set himself on fire on a busy street in front of the People's Assembly.
He was hospitalized but expected to be released in a day or two, officials said.
Egyptian police said on Tuesday they also arrested a man who was carrying jerry cans of petrol near parliament in Cairo on the presumption that he was going to set himself on fire.
The fiery protests began in Tunisia on December 17 when 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze. His death sparked an uprising and led to Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fleeing the country after 23 years in power.
Since then there have been nine other such incidents, believed to be copycat suicide bids.
Five of the later protests took place in Algeria which had also been the scene of violent protests over rising prices, twinned with unemployment.
In the latest in the north African country, a 36-year-old unemployed man set himself on fire near the Algerian frontier with Tunisia in the El Oued region, Algerian newspapers reported.
Another copycat immolation attempt also took place in Mauritania with a man burning himself outside the presidential offices in the capital Nouakchott.
The ouster of Tunisian strongman Ben Ali has left governments in the Middle East increasingly uneasy about the situation as opposition groups seek to take advantage of the upheaval in the north African country.
But Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Sunday downplayed fears that a Tunisian-style popular revolt could spread to other Arab countries, calling it "nonsense."
Tunis to affect Egypt
According to Mohamed al-Baradei, the Egyptian opposition and former head of IAEA, a regime change in Egypt is "imminent" following the popular uprising in Tunisia.
"It is inevitable. Change must come," al-Baradei told the Austrian news agency APA in an interview.
And al-Baradei suggested Egypt's long-standing presisdent Hosni Mubarak will soon find himself in a similar position unless political reforms are made.
The diplomat, who headed the Vienna-based IAEA agency for 12 years and even won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work there, called for a boycott of Egypt's presidential elections in September, saying the regime in his home country should be brought to its knees via peaceful demonstrations.
"We're trying with peaceful means," he said in comments reproduced in German.
He and his supporters had already collected one million signatures for a petition calling for the democratisation of Egypt.
If more people signed up "then we will have the legitimacy to speak for everyone who has signed," al-Baradei said.
ElBaradei has been calling for constitutional reforms to allow independents like himself to stand in this year's election. But the government has dismissed his demands.
It is widely believed in Egypt that 82-year-old incumbent president, who has ruled for 29 years, wants to pass on the baton to his 47-year-old son Gamal Mubarak, a banker who has been pushing for liberal economic reforms.
Al-Baradei said he was setting his hopes on the 60 percent of Egyptians who were younger than 30, "who have no hopes and no future, but above all no ulterior motives." he said, "People have every reason to live in fear, because they can be arrested and tortured."