Home | News    Wednesday 5 March 2014

Salary dispute within S. Sudan army triggers heavy gunfire in Juba


March 5, 2014 (JUBA) – About 20 soldiers remain unaccounted for and four officers have been arrested following the eruption of heavy gunfire in the South Sudan capital, Juba, on Wednesday after a dispute among army units over salary payments inside the main military barracks.

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A group of soldiers from the South Sudan army gather around a truck while on patrol in the capital, Juba (Photo: Samir Bol/AFP/Getty Images)

Head of information and public relations with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Brigadier General Malaak Ayuen said those arrested are believed to have instigated the incident, with more arrests expected as authorities continue to search for other suspects.

A senior officer earlier denied reports that there had been attempts to arrest individual officers, including the commander of the commando unit.

The officer said the incident occurred after some officers and soldiers who were waiting for payments refused to wait in line or follow the established procedures as set down by the payment committee.

“The same group also wanted to take salaries of the colleagues whose whereabouts is unknown,” the officer said.

Defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said the army’s leadership would investigate what triggered the firing, applauding security organs for taking “swift action to contain the situation”.

Sounds of gunfire and heavy artillery from the Geida military barracks at about 9am (local time) today sparked panic among residents, with many fleeing their work places.

Large explosions were also heard from barracks, located south-east of Juba, the same place where violence erupted on 15 December between soldiers loyal to president Salva Kiir and those aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar.

Sources told Sudan Tribune that a thick column of smoke billowing above the compound was coming from a military store that had been hit by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG).


Ayuen said the bodies of five soldiers killed during the incident were taken to the mortuary, while four others were wounded.

However, when Sudan Tribune visited the scene up to 18 bodies could be seen lying on the ground outside the military headquarters, including two that appeared to have been run over by tanks while attempting to flee.

Twelve bodyguards of the commander of the commando unit, Gatwiech Gai, are also missing, feared dead.

Seeking protection, Gai reportedly fled to the home of the army’s chief-of-staff, General James Hoth Mai.

Cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomoru also confirmed that salaries were in the process of being paid when heavy gunfire heavy erupted inside the barracks.

“I understand that salary payment was ongoing in Geida this morning, probably differences over the procedures payment may have sparked the firing,” he said.

The government’s decision to form a payment committee was introduced to ensure wages are not paid to “ghost” workers or those who do not show up during payment period, with troops and civil servants now required to collect their salaries in person

“The whole intention was for the good of the country. It was not meant to deny anybody their rightful dues. If there are different interpretations, then let our people know that the intention was to build confidence in our financial systems so that the issue of transparency and accountability is not ignored,” Lomoru told reporters earlier today.

Ayuen also confirmed that tensions over the new payment system were behind the incident.

Speaking to reporters shortly after visiting the scene, Ayuen said the situation is now under control and the SPLA would provide further updates later today following further investigation.

Several roads in and around Juba town have been blocked by the authorities. Affected areas include Juba-Yei road where further gunfire occurred.

Disruptions to phone networks during the morning also made communications difficult.


Meanwhile, a minister in the office of the president, Awan Guol Riak, denied the incident was the result of a rebellion.

“It was just a misunderstanding which arose between soldiers. The situation is now under control,” Riak told journalists at a news briefing.

However, multiple military sources, who are part of the payment committee, told Sudan Tribune that they had been instructed not to pay those residing at UN camps or accept payment claims from a third party, regardless of the justification.

A military source said a group of soldiers who were attempting to collect payments on behalf of colleagues not listed on the payroll became agitated after their requests were refused by the committee.

“A small misunderstanding triggered this firing and the unfortunate loss of lives,” the source said.

“We asked them (the soldiers) to inform them (their colleagues) to come so that they could be paid, but they did not want to listen to the advice of the committee and they started shouting [and] moving towards where the money was kept. This prompted intervention of the soldiers deployed to provide protection to the committee,” he added.

The unrest appeared to be confined to the Geida barracks, although large numbers of government forces were swiftly deployed in surrounding streets, with roadblocks set up on routes leading to the airport and military headquarters.

Sporadic gunfire can still be heard in the southern part of Juba and markets remain closed, although the situation on the ground continues to be calm.

The US embassy in Juba has issued a statement, advising its nationals to stay indoors for their personal safety.


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Kind regards,

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  • 5 March 2014 14:20, by Mayom County Boy

    soon guys iam coming to juba to sort out what make Mr Majiok Ater .the
    RRC DG for Republic of south sudan .what make him to refuse to release
    Unity state Bentiu.RRC Employees salaries to be receive by Bentiu RRC
    staffs.i hope Majiok Ater will find his way before i come there to Juba
    RRC Headquarter.

    repondre message

    • 5 March 2014 14:37, by Crude Owner

      I deeply feel sorry about those who lost their lives in this meaningless incident but I still say NO room for those who wants to get salaries on behalf of those who are still NOT known or already joined the rebellion group. The government can NOT pay rebels at this point.

      repondre message

    • 5 March 2014 15:08, by chuol

      OOOh it’s good that i see Mayom County Boy taking gun to fight with the regime lead by Kiir.You’re right my friend to fight with someone who didn’t want to give you your salaries-e,g RRC DG in South Sudan VS Mayom county’s RRS in Unity State

      repondre message

      • 5 March 2014 18:40, by American Missile.

        It was rebellious intended against salaries payment, some of the soldiers from NUER have been paid since yesterday, now interrupt payment of soldiers who do not get their salaries yesterday.if you like Money,do not like war, if you choose rebellion, forget the salaries. I think, God is punishing you through Dr.Riak Machar whose his future has ended.

        repondre message

    • 5 March 2014 16:39, by Son of Ngundeng

      God of right who let Dinka to fight each others, money of our area oil will confuse you, specialy dinka bahr gazal shame on you.

      repondre message

      • 5 March 2014 16:52, by Mi diit

        The Dinka were fighting alone over the salary issue only that their commando commander, Brig Gatwech Gai (NOT Gatwech Dual) as wrongly written in the article, was in charge. The Dinka of Warrap wanted to get paid twice including their dead relatives, saying they deserved it. The Dinka killed one another, 50 feared dead. What if the oil is closed, no money, more killings will occur in Juba.

        repondre message

        • 6 March 2014 09:18, by BM-21

          MI DIIT or MI biit
          Go to Geida and check the died bodies who are lying down right whether you will them down as Dinkas.
          They are all food lovers.(NUERS)

          repondre message

      • 5 March 2014 18:51, by American Missile.

        Oil is ours to which it can not confused Dinka,It is God have cast you people, you need to understand life.
        It is Dinka who brings to every Dogs here in South Sudan, those who slavery to Arab have turn themselves against Dinka, that is why God is punishing you all until you repent. and stop against Dinka. We will not allow any deter of this country.

        repondre message

    • 5 March 2014 16:50, by Paul

      A banana republic as to speak. Why would anyone keep cash out in the open in front of such a barbaric people? When there are no banking system for military members, why not pay them alphabetically? e.g, Monday: all members with last names starting with A; Tue: B; Wed; C etc. Thus, reducing the chaos and violent!

      repondre message

    • 5 March 2014 18:34, by American Missile.

      The HQR was informed that you have joined Rebels,therefore, you are not entitle to any payment until you either defeat the Government that you rebelled for or accepted defeat from the Government.

      repondre message

    • 5 March 2014 18:56, by American Missile.

      Before you reach RRC DG of Administration and Finance, you will miss your way to Juba. if you have power, fight the Payment Committee. not James Majok Ater who refuse you salaries,it is Committee.

      repondre message

    • 6 March 2014 01:30, by Bentiu son

      Mayom County Boy why are you blaming your bosses Dinkas thugs who hate Nuer to death? Do you really think that Dinka have got problem with Dr Machar alone? No buddy,those Dinkas thugs will knock the door of every Nuer Society whether you are their die heart supporters or not. General Gatwech Gai was killed last night by Dinka BEG remains Bapiny Monytuil n Gathoth Mai plus 3 blood money suckers Drs

      repondre message

      • 6 March 2014 06:08, by mathem jech amer

        These Nuers they rebelled and coming back to get their salries. Those who triggered fighting want to receive salary of those of Gatdet, Riek Machar, Taban plus more in the bush with Riek, they deserve killing, no more reminants in Gieda

        repondre message

  • 5 March 2014 15:03, by chuol

    I realize that South Sudan is not going on right direction since the independent because we fails to choose the right leaders in 2010 election- it’s good that we see the sign of failure government before we proceeded to enjoy much of our country’s resources- God will help the citizens of this nation and take away the regime who supported the bloodshad.

    repondre message

  • 5 March 2014 15:20, by Positive Thinker

    All this are the fruits of corruption, this financial committee thing, is a project that will make very few rich on the expense of the majority. Kiir is not a lucky man, advice from people like Martin Elia will make you go to Hague very soon my dear President.

    repondre message

  • 5 March 2014 16:22, by Kim Deng

    It’s up to Dinka Kingdom to pay those sell-out Nuer soldiers who defend these coward Jaang/Slaves Kingdom since December 15, 2013 or reject them payment.

    repondre message

    • 5 March 2014 20:23, by American Missile.

      Peace is not inside people of South Sudanese. However, these Generals should also be kill so that they can not instigate fighting and hoping soldiers to defend. All soldiers should shot first Generals for discipline so that President of Republic of South Sudan will know since he don’t remove his General, they will be remove by the BULLETS.President impose bad Commanders on Soldiers.

      repondre message

  • 5 March 2014 18:31, by American Missile.

    It is not RRC DG for Administration and Finance who refuse in your salaries. it is Payment Committee who wants a physically person. therefore, you should understand that. the problem with you illiterates Staff, you fail to understand the whole issue. come, you will see yourself.Remember you will swallow bullets.

    repondre message

  • 5 March 2014 19:45, by lakoda

    Money talk and kill. Those sellout Nuer killed their brothers in Juba last year because they were told your not part of this, they didn’t know Dinka very well. now Dinka know they already killed thier brothers, Ahaha.....aha you face it, Gatwech Gai is done.Next will be James Hoth, Gatduel Gatluak and Babpiny Montuel and last one will be Dr. Riek Gai and Dr Gai Yoa then project is done.

    repondre message

    • 5 March 2014 20:31, by American Missile.

      Wise Nuer can not be mislead by illiterates Nuer, and those who loves militia life will continue with miserable life.Wise leaders from Nuer will not listen to Tribal Nuer. shame on you.

      repondre message

    • 6 March 2014 01:41, by Bentiu son

      Lakoda,you are absolutely right,Brigadier General Gatwech Gai has ripe what he had sown.Being thorny traitor to your fellow tribal men whom were innocently victimized is the curse or sin before God n man.Gatwech Gai was used by Dinkas in 2010 in Kaldak where he was ordered to killed Gabriel Tanginye n in 15/12/13 when 10,000 Nuer civilians were massacred by Dinkas in Juba he sided with killers.

      repondre message

  • 5 March 2014 20:41, by American Missile.

    The Payment Committee and CMC are not fair committees, Our Presidents should not just be misadventure by the crook and hardliners who want him to be unpopular President.I wish I can be his advisory on Public policy/Relation and Political affairs.Mr. President, there are three areas which the People of South Sudan wants you to do for them.
    1.RESTFULLER in Undersecretaries.
    3.In ARMS

    repondre message

    • 6 March 2014 05:01, by Malakal county Simon

      I thought they gonna announced it as a drunk soldiers that’s caused the problem, as usual. Anyway as Gen. Gatwech Gai as been captured and shot alive!!!! Rest of Nuers loyalist to kiir will die one by one if they don’t act quick to join Dr Machar, because this sense-less war is about about Nuers in general and not just about Dr Machar as some may assumed it. So it never too late or you will be nex

      repondre message

    • 6 March 2014 07:57, by Mayom County Boy

      missiless can you information to your husband majiok ater tell him RRC
      Unity state Bentiu say take the money .we know how to get them back from
      him very soon.idiot

      repondre message

      • 6 March 2014 08:45, by Rami Tot

        pls read the what mathem jech amer wrote

        repondre message

  • 6 March 2014 07:17, by Tata

    Kiir should organize soldiiers based on merit. There should be minimum critera for being natonal army officer, not because you are a member of Kiir or Riek tribesmen. Keeping these illiterate soldiers in the army is acurse which S.S ripes its fruit. Those are barberic soldiers who don’t obey command or payment procedures. Shameful!

    repondre message

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