Time may have finally run out for Robert Mugabe after 37 years ruling Zimbabwe: The military has seized control and says he is "safe and sound" in their custody. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma says he spoke to the 93-year-old leader Wednesday and he said he was doing fine, though he is confined to his home, Reuters reports. But the situation could change quickly: The BBC reports that heavy gunfire was heard Wednesday near Mugabe's home in the northern suburbs of the capital, Harare. Troops in armored vehicles are on the streets and the US Embassy has told citizens to "shelter in place" until the crisis is over. Zuma has called for calm and warned against "unconstitutional changes in government."
The military, which launched the takeover by taking control of a state broadcaster, denies that a coup is underway and says it is only targeting "criminals" around Mugabe. Analysts say the action could be an attempt to replace Mugabe with recently fired deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa. Observers had expected the vice president to be replaced with Grace Mugabe, the leader's 52-year-old wife, who is deeply unpopular with the military. She is believed to be out of the country, possibly in Namibia, the Guardian reports. The AP reports that Victor Matemadanda, chief of Zimbabwe's influential association of liberation war veterans, says they support the military and believe Mugabe should be replaced. (Read more Zimbabwe stories.)