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Monday November 20th, 2017 3:54PM

The Latest: Zimbabwe army says 'this is not a takeover'

By The Associated Press
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The Latest on Zimbabwe's political turmoil (all times local):

4:55 a.m.

Zimbabwe's army has announced that "this is not a military takeover" and that President Robert Mugabe and his family are safe and sound.

"We are only targeting criminals around who him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice," the army announced on state-run media.

The early Wednesday announcement comes after a night of unrest with military vehicles in the capital and several explosions heard.

The army statement says that "as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."

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

___

4 a.m.

The British embassy in Zimbabwe is warning citizens to stay indoors "until the situation becomes clearer" amid growing political turmoil and military vehicles in the capital.

The embassy on Twitter cited "the uncertain situation" and "reports of unusual military activity" in the capital, Harare.

At least three explosions have been heard early Wednesday in Harare and armed soldiers and military vehicles have been seen in the streets.

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980.

___

3:25 a.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe is encouraging American citizens to "shelter in place" amid rising political turmoil and the appearance of troops in the capital.

An embassy statement cites "the ongoing political uncertainty through the night." The embassy will be closed to the public on Wednesday.

At least three explosions have been heard early Wednesday in Harare and armed soldiers and military vehicles have been seen in the streets.

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980.

___

2:30 a.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe says it will be closed to the public on Wednesday because of "ongoing uncertainty" in the capital.

The embassy announced the closure on Twitter early Wednesday, shortly after at least three explosions were heard in Harare and military vehicles were seen in the streets. The embassy says it will remain "minimally staffed."

Tensions are high after Zimbabwe's army commander threatened to have the military step in and calm political turmoil and the ruling party accused him of "treasonable conduct."

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

___

1:55 a.m.

At least three explosions have been heard in Zimbabwe's capital as military vehicles are seen in the streets.

The Associated Press has seen armed soldiers assaulting passers-by. Soldiers have been seen loading ammunition near a group of four military vehicles.

Tensions are high in the capital, Harare, after the country's army commander threatened to have the military step in and calm political turmoil and the ruling party accused him of "treasonable conduct."

Zimbabwe for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

___

8:35 p.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party is accusing the country's army commander of "treasonable conduct" for his threat to have the military step in and calm political turmoil.

The statement issued Tuesday night says the unprecedented comments made a day earlier by army commander Constantino Chiwenga were "clearly calculated to disturb national peace and stability" and were "meant to incite insurrection."

The statement comes hours after The Associated Press saw three tanks with several soldiers in a convoy on a road heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital, Harare.

While it is routine for tanks to move along that route, the timing heightens unease in a country that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Tensions rose last week after Mugabe fired his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had the military's support.

___

5:30 p.m.

Zimbabwe is on edge as armed personnel vehicles are seen outside the capital a day after the army commander threatened to "step in" to calm political tensions over the president's firing of his deputy.

The Associated Press saw three armed personnel vehicles with several soldiers in a convoy on a road heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital, Harare.

While it is routine for armed personnel vehicles to move along that route, Tuesday's timing heightens unease in this country that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe last week fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and accused him of plotting to take power. Over 100 senior officials allegedly backing Mnangagwa have been listed for disciplinary measures by a faction associated with Mugabe's wife.

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