Members of the Zulu and Xhosa tribes fought hand-to-hand at a hostel in Soweto, leaving at least 24 dead and 15 injured, police said Monday.

A senior police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said hundreds of armed Zulus stormed through the Meadowlands Hostel in the black township Sunday, hacking and spearing Xhosas to death.Terrified people were cut down as they tried to flee, others were killed in toilet facilities or in rooms where they had been eating and sleeping, witnesses said.

It was the worst outbreak of factional fighting in the Johannesburg region in recent weeks. Battles last year claimed more than 1,000.