Unification church member sets self on fire, injures others
August 22, 2013 -- Updated 1739 GMT (0139 HKT)
Newly-weds at the Unification Church's mass wedding held at in Gapyeong, east of Seoul, on February 17, 2013.
- A fire official says three people were burned
- The incident comes just before the anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's death
- The Unification Church's headquarters are in Seoul
(CNN) -- A follower of the Unification Church set fire to herself and two others in South Korea Thursday, the local fire service said.
Spokesman Song Sam-soo says the Japanese woman poured paint thinner on herself and a man, and another woman standing nearby was also injured.
The man and woman suffered third-degree burns, while the bystander had second-degree burns, Song said.
However, Steve Sakuwa from the Unification Church rejected the official account, saying, "self-immolation is incorrect." Sakuwa says the woman has a mental illness and was attempting to throw the liquid at a male pastor but accidentally doused herself as well.
The incident took place in a village in Gapyeong, east of Seoul, where the church's global headquarters is based. More than 25,000 followers are expected to convene here Friday for the one-year anniversary of the death of church founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. It is one year by the lunar calendar.
A self-declared messiah, Moon was a controversial figure. He founded the Unification Church in 1954 after the Korean War and was well known for officiating mass weddings. Critics accuse the church of being a cult.
Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon dead at 92
CNN's Paula Hancocks reported from Tokyo, with journalist Soo Bin Park contributing to this report from Seoul.
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