- The Zimbabwean capital Harare erupted in chaos early Wednesday morning local time, with reports of explosions in the city.
- Soldiers have also taken control of the headquarters of state broadcaster ZBC,
- However, a military spokesperson has said "this is not a military takeover."
- Zimbabwe's ruling party played down the unrest and rumors of a coup hours earlier.
Army says Mugabe family safe as it targets"criminals" around him
There is no doubt the military is in charge now
Chaos has erupted in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.
A witness told Reuters that soldiers and armoured vehicles were cutting off road access to government offices, parliament and courts in central Harare on Wednesday morning local time.
This followed reports of multiple explosions in the city and a heavy presence of armed soldiers in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Soldiers have also taken control of the headquarters of state broadcaster ZBC, according to Reuters.
A video of a ZBC broadcast appears to show a military spokesperson addressing the nation.
"We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and commander-in-chief of Zimbabwe defence forces comrade R. G. Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country, in order to bring them to justice.
"As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."
In more videos, posted by BNO News, the spokesperson goes on to inform all Zimbabwe defence forces to return to there barracks and that "all leave is cancelled." He also called on veterans and security forces to cooperate, saying that "any provocation will be met with an appropriate response."
"To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government. What this mobile defence force is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed, may result in a violent conflict."
Mugabe had earlier accused the head of the military of treason, which led to speculation of a potential coup, Reuters reported.
The wire service said the 93-year-old president's condition was not immediately known. Agence France-Presse cited an unconfirmed report from a resident who said shots were heard near Mugabe's residence.
The Associated Press reported seeing armed soldiers assaulting civilians and loading ammunition into military vehicles. At least three explosions were heard near the University of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's ruling party downplayed talk of unrest hours earlier. Isaac Moyo, Zimbabwe's ambassador to neighboring South Africa, earlier dismissed talk of a coup, saying the government was "intact" and blaming social media for spreading false information, Reuters said.
The US Embassy in Zimbabwe has advised all US citizens in Zimbabwe to shelter in place until further notice due to the country's "political uncertainty."
The US embassy also announced it will be closed on November 15.
The United Kingdom's embassy in Harare issued a similar warning, telling British nationals in the city to "stay safely at home/indoors until the situation becomes clearer."
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