Baring any last minute intervention or 'miracle', it seems the 30 year reign of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is about to come to an abrupt end.

The Zimbabwe's military has seized control in an apparent coup, deploying tanks to the streets of the capital Harare, and declaring that 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe was "safe."

In a dramatic televised statement in the early hours of Wednesday, an army spokesman denied that a military takeover was underway.

But the situation bore all the hallmarks of a coup: The army was in control at state TV in Harare, there was a significant military presence at the international airport, and Mugabe's whereabouts were unknown for hours.

South African President Jacob Zuma later said Mugabe was confined to his home.

It came after weeks of political turmoil, in which Mugabe sacked his powerful Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who enjoyed wide support in the military and was tipped to become the next leader. 

The move fueled speculation Mugabe would try to install his wife, Grace, to succeed him.

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The statement read out by Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo came hours after soldiers overran the headquarters of ZBC. He said: “We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.”

The statement added: “We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes… that are causing social and economic suffering in the country. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

The statement did not name those targeted but a government source quoted by Reuters said Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo was among those detained.

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