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About 1,000 South African soldiers tried to enter presidential grounds in South Africa’s capital city,Johannesburg, an incident that quickly turned violent.

Up to 1,200 soldiers marched on the lawns of the Union Buildings, with hundreds scaling the gates of the compound, the news agency said. Police resorted to tear gas and rubber bullets when the soldiers refused to leave, and both sides sustained injuries.

The South African National Defence Union, which is not recognised by the government as an official union, was demanding 30 percent salary increases, which Minister of Defence Lindiwe Sisulu called “deliberately provocative”.

Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, in a statement, “strongly condemned” the violence.

“The illegal march, which was supposedly to be peaceful, deteriorated into chaos as scores of SANDF [South African National Defence Force] members were seen causing havoc.

“While members of the SANDF had the right of freedom of assembly and to protest, there can be no justification for their behaviour, which negated their status as the defenders of the nation,” said Mthethwa.

Police used water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse about 1 000 soldiers who staged an illegal march on the Union Buildings, the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.

Soldiers tried to climb the fence surrounding the main government complex in Pretoria, after a court refused their application to stage a march to demand better salaries.

Mthethwa told reporters that two soldiers had been arrested and handed over to military police.

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