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American man burns himself to death in India

JAIPUR, India » An American man has died after setting himself on fire in an abandoned Buddhist center in northwestern India, leaving a cryptic suicide note that blamed his death on "cruel incidents" in his homeland and India, police said Thursday.

The charred body of Jeff Knaebel, a 71-year-old Californian, was found Wednesday by villagers at a meditation site in Rajasthan state, police superintendent Mohan Singh said.

"I am killing myself because of cruel incidents in both the U.S. and in India," Knaebel wrote in a note, according to police.

The note contained a request that only police handle his body and instructions that the $1,000 in his bag be given to the poor. It did not explain his motivations further.

Knaebel had renounced U.S. citizenship in 2009 and had been living in India since 1995.

Police said he had recently been visiting villages in the Rajasthan to talk to people about the teachings of India’s independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi. He reached the Buddhist center — in Virat Nagar, a town 90 miles north of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan — three days ago, police said.

A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy did not have immediate comment.

 

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