The Wall Street Journal: Rumors of Zimbabwe coup amid gunshots, explosions in capital

Gunshots were heard near the residence of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe early Wednesday amid reports of multiple explosions in the capital, as a battle to succeed the world’s oldest head of state entered a dangerous new phase.

A man in army fatigues appeared on state television early Wednesday, reading a statement saying that Mugabe and his family were safe. “Their security is guaranteed,” the man said. “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.”

Armored vehicles had driven into Zimbabwe’s capital late Tuesday, hours after the ruling party accused the head of the military of treason, triggering rumors of a military coup. The Associated Press reported that at least three explosions were heard in the capital on Wednesday.

The U.S. Embassy in Harare, the capital, urged Americans in the country to “shelter in place.” The embassy ordered government staff to work remotely for the day, citing “ongoing political uncertainty.” It wasn’t clear whether Mugabe, 93, or disaffected generals were commanding the deployments in the capital.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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