Zimbabwe’s military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest in the capital Harare, South African President Jacob Zuma says.
Zuma confirmed that Mugabe told him during a telephone call that he was fine.
Also, in a statement, Mr Zuma’s office said: “President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine.”
Troops are patrolling the capital, Harare, after they seized state TV and said they were targeting “criminals”.
The move may be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mr Mnangagwa’s dismissal last week left Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace as the president’s likely successor.
Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of Harare early on Wednesday.
Mr Mugabe, 93, has dominated the impoverished country’s political scene since it gained independence from the UK in 1980.
The UK Foreign Office advised Britons “currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer”, while the US embassy in Harare advised US citizens in Zimbabwe to “shelter in place” until further notice.
Meanwhile, the US State Department has that its Embassy in Harare will be minimally staffed and closed to the public on November 15. Embassy personnel will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Due to ongoing uncertainty in Zimbabwe, the U.S. Embassy in Harare will be minimally staffed and closed to the public on November 15. Embassy personnel will continue to monitor the situation closely. @StateDept @usembassyharare @usembassyharare
China, Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, says it is closely watching the situation and hopes that the relevant parties can properly handle their internal affairs.
A Zimbabwean army officer, Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo, went on TV after the takeover to say Mr Mugabe and his family were “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,” Maj Gen Moyo said, reading out a statement.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Major-General Moyo also said advised the citizens to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement, assuring that the Zimbabwean judiciary independence is guaranteed.
He also stated that the security services should co-operate for the good of the country and any provocation would be met with an appropriate response.
Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, it is not clear who is leading the military action.