Police opened fire to break up protests and black factions clashed in several towns, leaving nine blacks dead and scores wounded, police said Friday.

Five blacks were killed Thursday and about 80 injured in battles with riot police in Khayelitsha township outside Cape Town after police broke up a march with shotgun fire, police said. It was not clear how many died from police bullets.Clashes continued Thursday night, with police shooting at youths who erected barricades to block streets. At least 50 shacks were burned, but no other casualties were immediately reported.

Residents said the area remained tense Friday and that heavily armed police units roamed the township.

The independent South African Press Association and several newspapers reported seven people had been killed in the clashes. Police denied the reports.

A police statement Friday said four people were killed in black factional fighting in Natal Province during the previous 24 hours.

A group of blacks with rifles attacked a house at Ntzuma, killing two men and wounding a woman, the statement said. Two black men were killed at Mnjamda, but police gave no details.