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Zimbabwe President Mugabe removed from power in coup ending 37-year bloody reign

The brutal dictator has been arrested along with his wife by the army in the capital Harare - where the military has seized control and people are queuing to withdraw cash from banks

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been 'taken into custody' during an overnight attempted coup - after the army seized control of the capital Harare's streets and TV stations.

Reports that he has been removed from power - and is currently understood to be 'under house arrest' - suggest that finally there's an end in sight to the tyrant's bloody 37-year reign.

The army confirmed this morning that the "first family" had been detained in what many international observers believe to be a military coup - amid rumours that the vice-president Mugabe sacked last week has returned to seize control 'for the sanity of the nation'.

The Zimbabwe Defence Force denies it is a coup - and insists it is merely 'rounding up criminals' in an exercise described as a "bloodless correction".

South Africa President Zuma said shortly before 10.30am UK time that he had spoken to Mugabe earlier today "who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine".

Sky News is reporting that its sources say Mugabe's wife, Grace, is 'believed to have left the country for Namibia' - although that has been questioned on social media in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe and his wife are believed to be 'under house arrest' (Image: AFP)

Tanks have blocked main arteries in the capital (Image: REUTERS)

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Other security forces are being urged to "co-operate for the good of our country" with the army which has warned that "any provocation will be met with an appropriate response".

Pictures are emerging on social media of what's claimed to be the kitchen of the finance minister Ignatius Chombo - who is known to have been detained overnight - riddled with bullets. Unconfirmed reports say there was an exchange of gunfire and at least one security guard died.

There are unconfirmed reports that cabinet ministers and other prominent figures have either been arrested or are "on the run". Bulawayo 24 News is reporting unverified reports that the Police Commissioner-General has been 'shot dead'.

One prominent media figure, who MirrorOnline has chosen not to name, posted on Twitter that he was "sh** scared" - adding: "I am under my bed sobbing uncontrollable."

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Media agencies that have been able to get information out of the capital report that there has been "unrest" overnight - with at least three large explosions along with heavy gun and artillery gunfire heard - but the army is praising what's happened as a "bloodless correction of gross abuse of power" rather than officially admitting there has been a coup.

The UK Foreign Office has advised Brits in the country to stay indoors "until the situation becomes clearer" following 'unusual military activity'.

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  • Zimbabwe army chief claims Robert Mugabe is "safe and sound" as military takes power amid coup fears

The FCO guidance said: "Due to the uncertain political situation in Harare, including reports of unusual military activity, we recommend British nationals currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer."

Boris Johnson, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said: "We're monitoring the situation very closely as you can imagine and our ambassador has been in touch to say that if UK nationals are worried they should get in touch with our embassy.

(Image: Twitter)

(Image: Twitter)

(Image: Twitter)

A fridge appears riddled with bullets inside the home (Image: Twitter)

"At the moment it's very fluid and it's hard to say exactly how this will turn out. I think the most important point to make is that everyone wants to see a stable and successful Zimbabwe and I think we're really appealing for everyone to refrain from violence that's the crucial thing."

The former Zimbabwean vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa - last week sacked by Mugabe - was spotted landing at Manyame Air Force Base this morning is expected to take control.

MirrorOnline reported yesterday how tanks had rolled into Harare - later backed up by armoured personnel carriers which stationed themselves at key points. Military vehicles blocked off roads close to parliament and positioned themselves outside the ruling Zanu-PF party headquarters.

Ex-Zimbabwean vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa has landed back in the country (Image: Twitter)

The military have taken control of the streets (Image: AFP)

Armoured vehicles spotted at the state broadcaster ZBC (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

Huge queues at cash machines were spotted as word spread that something was afoot and panicked residents tried to withdraw money from banks.

Universities meanwhile have warned students to stay at home - and international flights are taking off and landing at the main airport where soldiers have also gathered. There are meanwhile unconfirmed reports that journalists are being detained at the airport.

One picture posted on Twitter showed that the President's name had been removed from a street sign pointing the way to 'Mugabe International Airport'.

Locals report there being an "uneasy calm" in the capital this morning. One Harare resident, named as Simba, told News 24: "We are in uncharted waters. Heavy military presence is causing a bit of tension in the country but no incidents of violence [yet].

"We have been advised to stay home but it's generally safe. Roads toward parliament have been closed off. Some courts are not sitting today."

A Twitter user posted this photo claiming it showed police detained at Parliament (Image: twitter)

An image shared on Twitter claimed to show police lined up on the ground being "detained at Parliament" with the caption: "Can't sympathise with them."

After taking control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the army said this morning the military is targeting "criminals" around the President who had caused "social and economic suffering".

The state broadcaster this morning has been playing what are described as "patriotic songs from the independence period of the 1980s". And the state-controlled newspaper claimed on its front page it was "business as usual".

There is no official word on the whereabouts of 93-year-old Mugabe and his unpopular wife Grace, 52, who he was understood to be keen to take over the presidency after his death.

But they are widely believed to be in the custody of the army.

Soldiers stand guard at an intersection (Image: AFP)

Mugabe has been loathed internationally for decades - and now appears unwelcome at home (Image: PA)

Main roads around the parliament have been blocked off (Image: AFP)

The military is staged at key positions in what appears to be a well-planned operation (Image: AFP)

In an official statement an army spokesman, Major-General Sibusiso Moyo, said: "Their security is guaranteed.

"We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover.

"We are only targeting criminals around (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice."

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  • Tanks roll into Zimbabwe's capital Harare amid rumours of possible COUP against President Robert Mugabe

The spokesman added that "as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy".

The army spokesman also called on churches to pray for the nation.

The statement also ordered all army personnel to return to barracks immediately.

People have been queuing to withdraw cash (Image: REUTERS)

The army has appeared on TV after seizing control of the state broadcaster (Image: REUTERS)

The army has been ordered onto the streets (Image: REUTERS)

Mugabe's time may have finally come (Image: REUTERS)

MirrorOnline reported yesterday how the army had moved less than 24hrs after the head of the armed forces said he was prepared to "step in" to end a purge of supporters of ousted vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe had last week sacked his long-time ally and the man many believed most likely to succeed him in order to pave the way for his younger wife Grace to take over running the country when he dies.

The head of the armed forces wants to see someone with an army background as the head of state - and will know that there is little support for much-loathed Mugabe on the international stage.

The tanks are am ominous sight (Image: REUTERS)

Tanks are on the streets of Harare (Image: Barcroft Media)

This morning the country's ruling Zanu-PF party claimed Mugabe had been "detained" in a "bloodless transition". Its official Twitter account claims that Mnangagwa has been made interim president.

In a series of somewhat bizarre posts it tweeted: "Thanks for your concerns, there is NO coup happening in Zimbabwe. Please continue with your lives and face up to your own problems.

"Zimbabwe has not had a coup. There has been a decision to intervene because our constitution had been undermined, in the interim Comrade E Mnagngawa will be president of ZANU PF as per the constitution of our revolutionary organisation.

People have been patiently queuing for money at cash machines (Image: REUTERS)

Tanks have taken control of the streets in Harare (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

"Last night the first family was detained and are safe, both for the constitution and the sanity of the nation this was necessary. Neither Zimbabwe nor ZANU are owned by Mugabe and his wife. Today begins a fresh new era and comrade Mnangagwa will help us achieve a better Zimbabwe.

"There was no coup, only a bloodless transition which saw corrupt and crooked persons being arrested and an elderly man who had been taken advantage of by his wife being detained.

"The few bangs that were heard were from crooks who were resisting arrest, but they are now detained."

The tv PF Youth League posted on Twitter: "Contrary to international reports, the gallant Zimbabwean Army has not staged a COUP.

"There is n COUP in Zimbabwe. Neither is there crisis. The army is simply effecting a National Democratic Project and it's doing so with peaceful aplomb." (sic)

A photograph of their Youth Leader - covered in blood on his chin - is being shared online claiming to show him in custody after his arrest, yet to be confirmed.

The UK has had an uncomfortable relationship with Mugabe (Image: PA)

His links with the UK have stretched back decades (Image: PA)

Mugabe has been keen to be photographed with famous faces around the world at any opportunity (Image: PA)

Meanwhile South African media is reporting that Mugabe is "preparing to step down" according to an unnamed senior source.

South Africa President Jacob Zuma calls for calm and restraint in Harare.

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