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Zimbabwe’s military denies coup, says it wants to target criminals around President Mugabe

An Army spokesperson warned other security forces of an ‘appropriate response’ if they did not cooperate.

Zimbabwe’s military, which took over the headquarters of state broadcaster ZBC on Tuesday night, has denied that it was a coup, AP reported. On Wednesday, the military said the operation was only meant to target criminals around President Robert Mugabe.

There is no word from the president or his representatives yet, though the military said he and the First Lady were safe.

“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy,” Army Chief of Staff Major General SB Moyo said. He asked other security forces to “cooperate for the good of our country,” and warned that “any provocation will be met with an appropriate response”.

The military has detained Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, an unidentified government official was quoted as saying by Reuters. The soldiers at the ZBC headquarters manhandled staff and a human rights activist.

Overnight, three explosions were heard in Harare, and military vehicles were seen on the streets. This comes about a day after Army General Constantino Chiwenga had warned of military intervention after President Mugabe sacked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week amid a disagreement over succession, the BBC reported. The ruling Zanu-PF party had accused Chiwenga of “treasonable conduct”.

President Mugabe has been in power since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980. His government in Zimbabwe has been accused of several human rights violations. The 93-year-old is also accused of maladministration, which has led to a collapse of the country’s economy and healthcare system, among other administrative failures.

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