Rival tribal factions agreed to work for peace in the battle-torn black township of Thokoza Tuesday after clashes killed at least 37 people and turned the streets into urban combat zones.

Xhosa supporters of the African National Congress and Zulus of the Inkatha movement met through the afternoon under police mediation and said in a joint statement at dusk they would "appeal to their members" to stop the black-on-black violence and encourage "political tolerance. "Before the peace talks began, groups of shouting Zulus and Xhosas clashed in roads and open lots of the townships and the neighboring Phola Park squatter camp, wielding crude sharp weapons and firing AK-47 assault rifles at one another, security forces, journalists and residents.

"It's like a military operational area here, it's like the border," said an army corporal, referring to South Africa's past bush war in Namibia. Leading a 10-man patrol down an alley strewn with pieces of brick and mortar, he added "this is the worst day here for weeks."

Gangs erected burning roadblocks at intersections and angrily warned off motorists with shouts and threats.