General Godefroid Niyombare, the leader of Burundi’s failed coup attempt has been arrested, according to the spokesman of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Earlier, Niyombare announced members of his movement had started surrendering to forces loyal to President Nkurunziza, but then he himself fled.

“I hope they won’t kill us,” he was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Niyombare’s arrest came only hours after the presidency announced that Nkurunziza – who was abroad when the coup was declared – had returned to his country.

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He was in neighbouring Tanzania for regional talks Wednesday when powerful general Godefroid Niyombare launched the coup, in a culmination of weeks of violent street protests against the president’s bid to seek a third term.

Nkurunziza took to Twitter on Thursday evening to announce his homecoming and praise soldiers and police who remained loyal to him during the ordeal. Aides said he was expected to return to the capital on Friday after a stop in his hometown in the north.

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The coup attempt had raised fears of a return to widespread violence in the impoverished country, which is still recovering from a 13-year civil war that ended in 2006 and left hundreds of thousands dead.

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Earlier Thursday, loyalist troops said they had fought off two major attacks by rival soldiers in an intense battle for control over the strategically important state radio office.

By mid-afternoon, station director Jerome Nzokirantevye said it was “loyalist soldiers who are in control”.