BUJUMBURA, Burundi — The attempt to overthrow Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has failed, a deputy coup leader told AFP on Thursday.
"Personally, I recognize that our movement has failed," Gen. Cyrille Ndayirukiye said a day after the coup was announced.
"We were faced with an overpowering military determination to support the system in power."
The admission came after the presidency said late Thursday that Nkurunziza had returned to Burundi, though it was not immediately possible to independently verify the information.
The president had been in Tanzania for regional talks when the coup was announced on Wednesday by powerful Gen. Godefroid Niyombare.
Loyalist troops on Thursday said they had fought off two major attacks by rival soldiers in a fierce battle for control of the strategically important state radio office.
Deputy coup leader Ndayirukiye said the coup attempt, "even if it has failed", had shown that there were forces within the army "subservient to the ruling party."
Asked whether the pro-coup troops would surrender or make a last stand, he said: "We have thought about it but we don't want to be responsible for leading those who have followed us to their deaths."
A senior police official confirmed the failed coup attempt and said the pro-coup troops were "in disarray" after their assault on the RTNB state television and radio complex in the capital was repelled.
"Some rebels have already surrendered. Others are fleeing," he said.