The Zimbabwean Army has denied reports of a coup after taking over the national broadcaster, ZBC, saying it has taken action to “target criminals”.
Heavy gunfire and artillery were heard in northern suburbs of the capital, Harare, early on Wednesday.
This followed a report that Zimbabwe is facing a political crisis with the ruling Zanu-PF party in the middle of a very public showdown over who is likely to succeed President Robert Mugabe
The current standoff was said to be between the Youth faction, loyal to his wife, Grace Mugabe, and the former liberation fighters, loyal to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president who was fired last week.
Reacting to the reports, a statement read out by Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo came hours after soldiers overran the headquarters of ZBC states “We wish to assure the nation that his Excellency the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.”
The statement added: “We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes… that are causing social and economic suffering in the country. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
The statement did not name those targeted but a government source quoted by Reuters said Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo was among those detained.
The military assured 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”
It is not clear who is leading the military action.