Zimbabwean military ''targeting criminals'' around Mugabe

Zimbabwean military officers read anaddress live on state TV in the early hours of Wednesday, saying they werenot launching a coup but were targeting criminals around President RobertMugabe.

It is not a military takeover of government, said one general reading astatement.

We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president… and hisfamily are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.

We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes… Assoon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation willreturn to normalcy.

Armoured vehicles were seen on the streets near the capital Harare onTuesday as questions mounted over whether Mugabe, who has ruled sinceindependence from Britain in 1980, was still holding onto power.

Tensions between the 93-year-old leader and the military have intensifiedin recent days.

Prolonged gunfire erupted

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