The government said Tuesday it freed three military commanders arrested after a failed coup attempt. Mutinous soldiers surrendered control of the airport and returned to their barracks.

State television announced Lt. Col. Himmler Rebu, commander of the Leopards Battalion, Col. Phillipe Biamby and Col. Leonce Qualo were given safe passage to the United States. Biamby commanded the presidential guard.Rebu had been accused of leading Sunday's attempt to overthrow Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril. At least four mutinous soldiers were reported killed Monday in skirmishes with troops loyal to Avril's government.

Rebu, Biamby and Qualo were escorted to the border of the Dominican Republic on Monday night to get a flight to an undisclosed city in the United States, a government communique said Tuesday. Rebu was accompanied by his wife and four children.

Independent Radio Haiti-Inter said rebel units of the 300-member Leopards Battalion withdrew Monday night from Port-au-Prince airport, but the airport remained closed. Schools and most businesses also were closed for a second day.

The government did not explain why the three officers were freed, but the move clearly was meant to defuse resistance within Leopards Battalion, whose rebellious members had demanded Rebu's freedom.

Avril assumed power six months ago in a coup led by non-commissioned officers who said they were disgusted by official corruption and human rights abuses.

On Monday night, presidential guardsmen in tanks battled Leopards commandos on a main thoroughfare between the airport and downtown Port-au-Prince.

Radio stations gave conflicting casualty reports, saying four to eight Leopards were killed and several wounded.

Nine members of an independent council appointed to organize and schedule presidential elections were to be sworn in Tuesday, but it was not clear if the ceremony would be held.