Netizen 24 ISR: Zimbabwe army has Mugabe and wife in custody, controls capital

Zimbabwe army has Mugabe and wife in custody, controls capital ...

Zimbabwe army has Mugabe and wife in custody, controls capital

Advertisment Updated Zimbabwe army has Mugabe and wife in custody, controls capital

Army denies takeover, says it is only going after 'criminals' around the president

The Associated Press Posted: Nov 15, 2017 5:06 AM ET Last Updated: Nov 15, 2017 7:10 AM ET

Armed soldiers sit on top of a tank in Harare, Zimba   bwe on Wednesday. At least three explosions were heard in the capital early Wednesday and military vehicles were seen in the streets.

Armed soldiers sit on top of a tank in Harare, Zimbabwe on Wednesday. At least three explosions were heard in the capital early Wednesday and military vehicles were seen in the streets. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press)

Zimbabwe's army said Wednesday it has President Robert Mugabe and his wife in custody, and is securing government offices and patrolling the capital's streets following a night of unrest that included a military takeover of the state broadcaster.

The night's action triggered speculation of a coup, but the military's supporters praised it as a "bloodless correction."

South Africa's president says he has spoken with Mugabe and that the 93-year-old leader is confi ned to his home but is "fine," although the military hasn't confirmed where Mugabe and his wife are being held.

A statement by President Jacob Zuma's office says he's sending South Africa's ministers of defence and state security to Zimbabwe to meet with Mugabe and the military there, and is calling for calm.

Zimbabwe Political Turmoil

Maj.-Gen. S.B. Moyo, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, said early Wednesday the military is targeting "criminals" around President Robert Mugabe, and sought to reassure the country that order will be restored. (ZBC via Associated Press)

It's the first time this southern African nation's military is opposing Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state and one of the longest-serving authoritarian rulers. Mugabe has been i n power since Zimbabwe's independence from white minority rule in 1980.

  • INTERACTIVE: Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe: A ruined nation awaits the death of a dictator

Armed soldiers in armoured personnel carriers stationed themselves at key points in Harare, while Zimbabweans formed long lines at banks in order to draw the limited cash available, a routine chore in the country's ongoing financial crisis. People looked at their phones to read about the army takeover and others went to work or to shops.

Mugabe's security 'guaranteed'

In an address to the nation after taking control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Maj.-Gen. Sibusiso Moyo said early Wednesday the military is targeting "criminals" around Mugabe, and sought to reassure the country that order will be restored.

Without saying where Mugabe and his wife are being held, Moyo said, "Their security is guarant eed."

ZIMBABWE-POLITICS/

Soldiers stand beside military vehicles just outside Harare on Tuesday. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

"We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover," he said. "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."

Moyo added that "as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."

He called on churches to pray for the nation. He urged other security forces to "co-operate for the good of our country," warning that "any provocation will be met with an appropriate response."

War veterans praise army

All troops were ordered to retu rn to barracks immediately, with all leave cancelled, said Moyo. The broadcast was sent out from the ZBC headquarters in Pocket's Hill near Harare's Borrowdale suburb.

Overnight, at least three explosions were heard in the capital of Harare, and military vehicles were seen in the streets.

Zimbabwe Turmoil Images

A military tank is seen with armed soldiers on the road leading to President Robert Mugabe's office in Harare. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press)

The military actions appear to put the army in control of the country.

Army Cmdr. Constantino Chiwenga had threatened on Monday to "step in" to calm political tensions. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party responded by accusing the general of "treasonable conduct." But now Chiwenga appears to be in control.

The a rmy has been praised by the nation's war veterans for carrying out "a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power." The military will return Zimbabwe to "genuine democracy" and make the country a "modern model nation," Chris Mutsvangwa, chairman of the war veterans' association, told The Associated Press in Johannesburg.

Canadians told to stay indoors

Mutsvangwa and the war veterans are staunch allies of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was fired from his post as vice-president by Mugabe last week. Mnangagwa fled Zimbabwe last week, but said he would return to lead the country.

Canada, the United States and Britain advised their citizens in Harare to stay indoors.

Robert Mugabe's push for independence5:22

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the U.K. is monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe.

"It's very fluid and it's hard to say exactly how this will turn out," said Johnson. "The most important point to make is that everybody wants to see a stable and successful Zimbabwe and I think we are really appealing for everybody to refrain from violence."

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