Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki
Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki - Reuters

The feared coup attempt by renegade soldiers in Eritrea against President Isaias Afwerki is said to have failed as government forces crushed the rebellion.

As many as 200 rebel soldiers stormed the ministry of information in the capital Asmara forcing the state media to broadcast a statement about releasing political prisoners.

The rebel soldiers are likely to be captured and jailed. The state-run television channel is also said to be back on air after the overnight siege.

A New York Times report, quoting "several people with close contacts inside Eritrea", confirmed that the coup bid has failed. Government officials in Asmara have not confirmed that there was a coup attempt or that it was put down.

Analysts say that the fallout of the coup attempt is likely to continue as efforts are made to uproot Afwerki's authoritarian government which has been in power for the last two decades.

"It is a question of time before the full price of isolation is paid by the government in Asmara. Incidents such as this are mounting," an unnamed diplomat told Reuters.

The daughter of Afwerki was also said be inside the ministry when the rebel soldiers lay siege to the building.

The US State Department has also sent an advisory to Americans in the reclusive nation asking them to be cautious.

"This is a Security Message for US citizens in Eritrea. The US Embassy has been made aware of increased military presence in some sections of Asmara. Employees of the US government have been advised to limit their movements within the city, avoid large gatherings, and exercise caution. We strongly recommend that private US citizens do likewise," said the statement.

The country holds anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people as political prisoners and has often been accused of human rights violations. The United Nations has imposed heavy sanctions on Eritrea over its links with Somali Islamic militant groups.