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15 November 2017, 11:45 | Erica Roy
GETTY Grace Mugabe is the First Lady of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe's military took control targeting "criminals" around President Robert Mugabe but gave assurances on national television that the 93-year-old leader and his family were "safe and sound".
Earlier, heavy gunfire was heard in the Harare suburbs near to Mugabe's compound as the crisis in the African nation intensifies.
Witnesses said several state broadcaster ZBC members of staff were manhandled in the early hours of the morning (local time) as the soldiers occupied the premises, while the source of the explosions was not immediately apparent.
"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", he said.
In the army's overnight broadcast, the spokesman, Gen. Sibusiso Moyo, said the military expected "normalcy" to return as soon as the army had completed its "mission".
Zanu-PF said Gen Chiwenga's stance was "clearly calculated to disturb national peace. and suggests treasonable conduct on his part as this was meant to incite insurrection". The house of President Mugabe has also been occupied by the military.
The army on Tuesday took over the Pockets Hill headquarters of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in Harare, which Moyo accused of being used to push the agenda of senior officials behind a purge of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa and his supporters in the ruling ZANU PF.
Decades of control over the African country has, unsurprisingly, seen Mugabe accumulate some significant wealth, much like other dictators Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, and Hosni Mubarak.
GETTY Grace Mugabe could follow in her husband footsteps to become leader of Zimbabwe
The previous day, Chiwenga had made clear the army's refusal to accept the removal of Mnangagwa - like the generals a veteran of Zimbabwe's anti-colonial liberation war - and the presumed accession of Grace, once a secretary in the government typing pool.
President Mugabe, 93, nor his representatives have commented on the latest developments.
The US embassy in Zimbabwe warned its citizens in the country to "shelter in place" due to "ongoing political uncertainty".
Concerns grew on Tuesday after soldiers seized Zimbabwe's state broadcast ZBC in response to accusations by the ruling ZANU-PF party that the head of the military had committed treason.
Tensions between the veteran leader and the military, which has long helped prop up his authoritarian rule, have erupted in public in recent days.
Mugabe's second wife has developed a reputation as a shrewd, if sometimes extravagant, politician, and has steadily gained influence among youth in Zimbabwe.
Martin Rupiya, an expert on Zimbabwe military affairs at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, said the army appeared to be putting the squeeze on Mugabe.
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