Speculation of a coup against Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe has increased after reports of the military taking over ZBC state broadcaster just hours ago.

Reuters were informed by ZBC staff and a human rights worker that they had been manhandled as the soldiers took control of the site. However, they were also assured they would remain safe.

Several loud explosions have also been heard, across the nation's capital of Harare, as soldiers began patrolling to the streets.

The army has since denied it has carried out a coup, issuing a statement live on TV that the 93-year-old president is not in danger, just those in his government that are "committing crimes".

"It is not a military takeover of government," an army spokesman said in a televised statement. "We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president… and his family are 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 in order to bring them to justice.

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

"As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."

This follows General Constantino Chiwenga's threat that he would "step in" over Mr Mugabe's dismissal of popular vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 6.

Mr Mnangagwa was a long-serving military man, and integral figure during the liberation wars of the 1970s.

And it believed that Mr Mnangagwa — who has the support of the armed forces — was ousted to create a pathway for the president's wife Grace to become the country's next leader.

Indeed, the sacking followed a public battle between Mr Mnangagwa and Grace.

The Guardian reports that the first lady denied she attempted to poison the vice-president in October, while she has also accused him of plotting to stage a coup during the time of Zimbabwe's independence more than 30 years ago.

"In 1980 this person called Mnangagwa wanted to stage a coup. He wanted to wrestle power from the president. He was conspiring with whites. That man is a ravisher," Grace said.

Developments as they come to hand.