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Africa

Burundi coup leader on the run as Nkurunziza returns to Bujumbura

media General Godefroid Niyombare gives an address on 13 May Reuters/Jean Pierre Aime Harerimana

The leader of the failed military coup in Burundi was on the run on Friday morning after three of his fellow plotters were arrested. President Pierre Nkurunziza had returned to the capital and was reported to be preparing a broadcast to the nation, while NGOs called for new demonstrations against his attempt to stand again for the country's leadership.

"We have decided to surrender," coup leader General Godefroid Niyombare told the AFP news agency by phone on Friday. "I hope they won't kill us."

Loyalist troops arrested the coup leaders' spokesperson, Zenon Ndabaneze, deputy coup leader Cyrille Ndayirukiye and another senior mutineer but promised "no foul play" because they wished to put the men on trial.

Nkurunziza, who was at a regional conference in Tanzania when the coup took place, had returned to Burundi on Friday and was preparing a broadcast to show he was still in power, his aides said.

Civil society groups called new protests against Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in office, which they claim is unconstitutional.

"Out of principle we are against coups, but we saw that the Burundian people were broadly welcoming of the coup attempt, which show that Burundi needs change," anti-Nkurunziza activist Vital Nshimirimana told AFP.

More than 25 people have been killed and many more wounded since the ruling CNDD-FDD nominated Nkurunziza as its candidate in 26 June polls.

The UN Security Council, the US and many other countries condemned the coup, despite criticism of Nkurunziza's bid to be reelected.

Niyombare was sacked from an intelligence post in February after criticising the president's decision.

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