Zimbabwe’s military said on Wednesday it detained longtime President Robert Mugabe and seized control of state broadcasters in an apparent coup in the southern African nation.
Military vehicles rolled into the streets of the capital, Harare, late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
“We are only targeting criminals around [Mugabe] who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” the army announced on state-run media.
Political tensions have been rising since 93-year-old President Mugabe recently sacked Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time ally, as vice-president.
A statement read out by a general on air denied it was a coup and said Mr Mugabe was safe, but did not say where.
International media report says heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of the capital Harare early on Wednesday.
Malawian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Annie Kumwenda, urged the large Malawians community living in Zimbabwe to stay indoors for the time being until the situation becomes clearer.
Other key points of the military statement included:
- Citizens should remain calm and limit unnecessary movement
- The military assures the Zimbabwean judiciary that its independence is guaranteed
- Security services should “co-operate for the good of our country” and any provocation would “be met with an appropriate response”
- All leave for the defence forces is cancelled and personnel should return to barracks immediately