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Jobless man sets fire to himself at French employment office

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

PARIS, Feb 13 (Reuters) - A jobless man died on Wednesday after setting himself on fire in front of a state employment agency that had rejected his request for unemployment benefits, the government said.

Djamal Chaab, 43, had warned a branch of the Pole Emploi national employment agency in Nantes, western France, on Tuesday that he planned to kill himself, the agency said in a statement.

Although police and firemen were on alert around the agency, they were unable to stop him setting fire to himself.

With the French jobless rate at a 13-year high, "this drama brutally shows the terrible daily reality of unemployment," the CFDT union said in a statement. "Job seekers are not statistics."

Although unemployment in France, at 10.3 percent of the workforce, is far lower than that in Greece or Spain, President Francois Hollande is struggling to live up to a pledge to get the rate falling by year end.

The number of people making jobless claims stopped rising in December after 19 consecutive monthly increases, but it risks resuming its climb with new waves of industrial layoffs and plant closures announced on a daily basis. (Reporting by Gerard Bon and Leigh Thomas; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130213/jobless-man-sets-fire-himself-at-french-employment-office