msnbc.com news services
updated 1/27/2011 10:39:53 AM ET 2011-01-27T15:39:53

Police say an American man has died after setting himself on fire in an abandoned Buddhist center in northwestern India.

The charred body of Jeff Canabel was found Thursday by villagers at the meditation site in Rajasthan state.

Senior police officer Mohan Singh says the 72-year-old was from California.

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North Africa and the Middle East have seen a series of self-immolations since a Tunisian man burned himself and set off a popular uprising that deposed the government there.

Tunisia's uprising began in the town of Sidi Bouzid after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on Dec 17. Sidi Bouzid is a poorer town in the interior of the country where locals complain they have long been marginalized.

Self-immolation has also been used by Buddhists as a form of protest.

Canabel's note did not reference Tunisia. It said: "I am killing myself because of cruel incidents in both U.S. and in India."

Singh said Canabel died Wednesday night. He had been living in India for the past five years.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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