In an extraordinary statement after taking over the state broadcaster during a night of unrest, Zimbabwe's army said early Wednesday it was only targeting "criminals" around President Robert Mugabe, and sought to reassure the country that "this is not a military takeover." Mugabe and his wife, Grace Mugabe, were safe and sound, the army spokesman said. He urged other security forces to "cooperate for the good of our country," warning that "any provocation will be met with an appropriate response." Overnight, at least three explosions were heard in the capital, Harare, and military vehicles were seen in the streets, the AP reports. Mugabe and his wife are believed to be in the custody of the military.
On Monday, army Commander Constantino Chiwenga had threatened to "step in" to calm political tensions over the 93-year-old Mugabe's possible successor. The ruling party accused the commander of "treasonable conduct." Mugabe last week fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and accused him of plotting to take power, including through witchcraft. Mnangagwa, who enjoyed the military's backing and once was seen as a potential president, fled the country and said he'd been threatened. Grace Mugabe appeared to be positioned to replace Mnangagwa as one of the country's two vice presidents at a special conference of the ruling party in December, leading many in Zimbabwe to suspect that the unpopular first lady could succeed her husband.