Troops loyal to Bantu Holomisa, military leader of South Africa's Transkei black tribal homeland, foiled a coup attempt Thursday masterminded by a rebel colonel who was allegedly aided by white mercenaries.

Holomisa told Reuters a small armed group led by Col. Craig Duli tried overnight to take over an army camp and government buildings in the Transkei capital Umtata.The takeover was swiftly quashed, Holomisa said, and at least three members of the rebel force who staged a mortar attack on the army camp were killed in return fire.

"Things are under control. I am on my way to work," he said.