The US embassy in Zimbabwe on Wednesday warned its citizens in the country to ‘shelter in place’ amid fears of a coup in the African nation.
Explosions and gunfire were heard in the capital on Tuesday night, sparking fears of a military takeover as the crisis threatening President Robert Mugabe’s government deepened.
The American and British embassies have warned their citizens to stay home and take cover to avoid the conflict.
The US embassy in Zimbabwe on Wednesday warned its citizens in the country to ‘shelter in place’ amid fears of a military coup in the African nation
Two soldiers sitting in a tank on the outskirts of Harare where a suspected coup took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning
Several armored vehicles have been seen on the main roads near the Zimbabwean capital Harare as tension erupted between President Robert Mugabe and the military
‘As a result of the ongoing political uncertainty through the night, the Ambassador has instructed all employees to remain home (Wednesday),’ the embassy in Harare said in a statement.
‘The embassy will be minimally staffed and closed to the public.
‘US citizens in Zimbabwe are encouraged to shelter in place until further notice.’
The British foreign office earlier said it was ‘aware of reports of military vehicles moving on the outskirts of Harare’ and said it was monitoring the situation closely.
Ageing: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, 93, who has been in power since 1980, is in increasingly fragile health and makes regular trips abroad for medical treatment
Tensions have been rising in the land-locked African country after Zimbabwe’s head of the military, General Constantino Chiwenga, challenged Mugabe over his decision to sack the vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. The move was widely seen as a power play to make way for his wife Grace to succeed him.
Chiwenga had threatened that the army could ‘step in’ to end President Mugabe’s ‘purge’ of opponents on Monday.
The ruling ZANU-PF party hit back at the threat, saying it would never succumb to military pressure and described the statement by the armed forces chief as ‘treasonable conduct’.
Tanks had been making their way to the city center throughout the day as tensions reached boiling point.
Then at least three explosions were heard in Harare, sparking fears of a coup which sent shockwaves around Zimbabwe.
Armed soldiers were also reportedly seen assaulting passers-by in the capital and loading ammunition near a group of four military vehicles in an unprecedented challenge to Mugabe.
The public dispute has presented a major test of whether 93-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, still has a firm grip on power.