Zimbabwe’s military has confirmed that it has taken custody of President Robert Mugabe and his wife, and is securing government offices and patrolling the capital’s streets following a night of unrest that also resulted in military takeover of the state broadcaster.

The action triggered speculation of a coup, but the military’s supporters praised it as a “bloodless correction”.

In a short broadcast on national television a spokesman for the military said that “the situation in our country has moved to another level.”

While denying that the army had staged a coup, they said that Robert Mugabe 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,” said the main speaker, who was identified as Maj. Gen. S. B. Moyo, the army’s chief of staff.

Zimbabwe is seeing an open rift between the military and the 93-year-old Mugabe for the first time after he sacked his longtime ally and Vice President Mnangagwa, who had military support.

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