Zimbabwe 'Coup' Escalates: US Embassy Closes, Explosions Rock Harare, Military Seize State Broadcaster
Following at least three explosions across Zimbabwe's capital city tonight - following what appears to be the start of a military coup as tanks rolled in - the US embassy in Harare has been closed. Additionally, reports state that troops have deployed on the streets and have seized the state broadcaster.
As we detailed earlier, The Associated Press said it saw three tanks with several soldiers in a convoy on a road heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital, Harare, while Reuters reported that four tanks were seen heading toward the capital.
And here is Al Jazeera with a brief explainer of the political crisis in Zimbabwe that threatens to sweep Robert Mugabe from his post:
Zimbabwe is facing a political crisis with the ruling Zanu-PF party, as a very public showdown over who is likely to succeed President Robert Mugabe plays out.
The current standoff is between the Youth faction, loyal to his wife, Grace Mugabe, and the former liberation fighters, loyal to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president who was fired last week. Al Jazeera's Hannah Hoexter explains.
But the situation appears to have escalated notably in the last few hours as The Telegraph reports, several loud explosions echoed across central Harare in the early hours of Wednesday after troops deployed on the streets of the capital and seized the state-owened Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp.
“I was woken up at about 1.10 a.m. by a distant explosion that shook the bed -- two others since then,” Roger Stringer, who lives in Harare’s Mount Pleasant suburb, said by phone.
AP notes that 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."
Additionally, 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. The embassy says it will remain "minimally staffed."