A heavily—indebted man entered a bank, doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, reports said on Thursday.
The 55—year—old, whose identity was not confirmed, entered the Pireaus Bank located in Thessaloniki’s city centre and after pouring gasoline on his body set himself on fire.
Bank staff managed to remove the man from the premises and onto the street where firefighters extinguished his blazing clothes, the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini reported.
Officials said the man, who had an account at the bank, was believed to have been heavily in debt. It was unclear whether the man aimed to commit suicide or simply draw attention to his plight.
Greece’s debt crisis and subsequent public spending cuts — which includes slashing salaries and pensions — and tax hikes have sparked protests and riots in recent months.
European Union policymakers and investors are closely monitoring public reaction amid concerns that large—scale social unrest could prevent the government from pushing through the tough measures.
Greece’s main unions, which together represent about 2.5 million workers, or around half the nation’s workforce, said they would carry out more strikes in June to protest against a pension reform bill they said would further burden the poor.
The bill, which is to be voted on in Parliament in June, would raise the retirement age and discourage workers from taking their pensions early.
Transport was frozen across Greece’s main cities on Thursday after workers decided to hold a 24—hour strike while a news blackout was in effect after Greek journalists walked off the job against the government’s austerity measures.
Despite the frequency of the protests, opinion polls showed that while most Greeks agreed the austerity measures were necessary, the majority believe the poor and middle class were shouldering the weight of the measures while the rich evade taxes.