Military officers read an address live on state TV, saying President Robert Mugabe was "safe" and his "security is guaranteed".
"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.
"As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."
The address came hours after several loud explosions echoed across central Harare and troops seized the headquarters of the ZBC, Zimbabwe's state broadcaster.
"Although it doesn’t look like a coup, it is a coup,” Zimbabwe analyst Alex Magaisa, a senior Zimbabwe legal analyst based in the UK, told The Telegraph.
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