SAfrican police clash with protesting soldiers

(AP) – 2 days ago

JOHANNESBURG — Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas as violence flared during a wage protest by South African soldiers in the streets of Pretoria, the capital.

A policeman and several soldiers were injured. A police vehicle was set alight and a number of other cars were also damaged in violence during the daylong protest.

Defense Minister Lindiwe Sisulu condemned the violence and said the soldiers’ action was a “threat to national security.”

Police tried to disperse over 1,000 soldiers who had converged on the lawns of the Union Buildings, the seat of government, even after a court denied them permission to hold their march.

Footage from a local television station shows police firing into the crowd, forcing the protesters against a fence. Many protesters retreated back over the fence, and police continued firing across a busy thoroughfare near many embassies and hotels.

The protest ended at about 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) when police warned that more force would be used, the South African Press Association reported.

Sisulu told reporters in Cape Town that she had instructed the head of the defense force to immediately suspend protesters. Two soldiers had been arrested and handed over to the military police, she said.

South Africa has been hit by a spate of violent strikes and protests and police have promised to crack down on unruly behavior.

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