Vietnam blogger's mother 'dies in self-immolation'

HANOI- The mother of a prominent Vietnamese blogger has died after setting herself on fire ahead of her daughter's trial for propaganda against the Communist state, sources close to the family said Monday.

"Her wounds were very serious and she died on the way to the hospital," Dinh Huu Thoai, a priest close to the family of Ta Phong Tan who is due in court in Ho Chi Minh City next week alongside two other bloggers, told AFP.

The trio, who include one blogger whose case has been raised by US President Barack Obama, are accused of "distorting the truth, denigrating the party and state" by posting hundreds of political articles on the banned website "Free Journalists Club" of Vietnam, as well as writing on their own blogs.

Tan, a 43-year-old Catholic former policewoman, was arrested on September 5, 2011 and has been held in detention since.

Tan's mother, Dang Thi Kim Lieng, set herself ablaze early Monday, according to Catholic activists and lawyers whose accounts were corroborated by reports on dissident blogs and the BBC's Vietnamese-language service.

The 64-year-old is reported to have set fire to herself in front of the offices of the People's Committee of Bac Lieu - the local authorities in Tan's native province - according the Chuacuuthe Catholic blog.

"She was very much worried about her daughter... she was very worried about her daughter's trial... she was worried she would never see her daughter again," Catholic activist Le Quoc Quan told AFP.

Repeated attempts by AFP to contact Tan's family members were unsuccessful, as their mobile phones and landlines were unreachable on Monday, while there was no official confirmation of the incident from the authorities.

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