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The 37-year rule of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe might be coming to an end after reports that he has been detained by troops following a night of military action in the country's capital.
Army officials denied claims of a coup, but Mugabe and his wife Grace have been taken into military custody, and government offices and the country's state TV channel have also taken over.
With soldiers patrolling the streets of Harare, a military spokesman announced Mugabe and his family were 'safe' on state television.
Credit: Zimbabwe state TV
"It is not a military takeover of government," an army spokesman said in a televised statement. "We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president... and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.
"We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.
"As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."
I can confirm that flights in and out of #Zimbabwe are operating per normal. Air Zimbabwe took off for Bulawayo this morning and the SAA flight from Harare landed a while ago .
- Trevor Ncube (@TrevorNcube) November 15, 2017
In Harare i havent witnessed any violence this morning. There's an uneasy calm. Not many cars out here; most people have stayed indoors. Soldiers are conducting stop-and-searches on major roads.
- Brezh Malaba (@BrezhMalaba) November 15, 2017
Speculation mounted through the day yesterday that a plot against the 93-year-old president was underway, after the head of the armed forces threatened to 'step in' following the sacking of an influential vice president.
Mugabe is the longest serving leader in Africa; he came to power in the 1980s after the civil war that turned the unrecognised white-ruled Rhodesia into the country that's now known as Zimbabwe. Although initially viewed as a Nelson Mandela-style independence figure, he has been criticised by the West for corruption and maintaining power through brutality.
Due to ongoing uncertainty in Zimbabwe, the U.S. Embassy in Harare will be minimally staffed and closed to the public on November 15. Embassy personnel will continue to monitor the situation closely. @StateDept
- U.S. Embassy Harare (@usembassyharare) November 15, 2017
The UK Foreign Office has advised Britons currently in Harare to 'remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer', while the US embassy advised its citizens to 'shelter in place' until further notice.
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